- The Washington Times
Friday, June 21, 2019


President Trump’s shocking statement that Iran probably didn’t mean to shoot down our $110 million spy drone sent House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Democrats into a state of consternation — which now becomes the 12th battleground state.

Mr. Trump’s resistance to the warhawk-defense spenders in his party is a big reason he won the 2016 Republican nomination and the general election when everyone said he couldn’t.

“I find it hard to believe it was intentional if you want to know the truth,” the president said in response to the shootdown and interventionists’ clamor for retaliatory action.

“It could have been somebody who was loose and stupid that did it,” the president said. “I would imagine it was a general or somebody who made a mistake in shooting the drone down.”

When’s the last time you heard a president — any president of any country — with enough self-confidence to come off as calm and forgiving after having a hostile government demolish hundreds of millions of dollars worth of military hardware?

The Trump administration and the Pentagon say the U.S. was minutes away from hitting Iranian targets with a punishing counterattack when Mr. Trump found out two things.

First, some 150 Iranians would die in the bombings.

Second, the Iranian high command was furious with a lower-ranking Islamic Revolutionary Guard officer for taking it on himself to shoot down the U.S. spy craft.

So Mr. Trump immediately called the whole thing off. Or maybe he had never approved a counter strike but felt he had to appease warhawks by publicly telling the mullahs in Tehran that he had launched then called back the counter strike. Warhawks always say failure to retaliate signals U.S. weakness and invites more attacks.

When’s the last time warrior-advisers swayed a president, premier or caudillo to make the SOBs pay? And then that same leader orders his bombers and attack vessels to stand down at the last second. Why? Because, in Mr. Trump’s case, he’s telling himself, “This is not me. I’m no knee-jerk, ‘convert ‘em to democracy-or kill ‘em’ interventionist. I don’t start unwindable wars like Iraq.”

Not even over the destruction of a $110 million drone.

We may never know the actual cost to us, paid for in money that Beijing’s dictatorship lent us. That’s the way the warhawk-military-industrial corner of Washington’s swamp means things to work.

Just in case there are lawmakers wandering the lobbies of Congress unsure of where Mr. Trump stands on the war issue, the president dispatched his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, to make one thing perfectly clear.

“President Trump does not want war,” Mr. Pompeo said. “And we will continue to communicate that message, while doing the things that are necessary to protect American interests in the region.”

Mr. Pompeo didn’t say Mr. Pompeo doesn’t want war with Iran. Which makes the instinctively pusillanimous Mr. Pompeo, in this instance, an unusually honest secretary of state.

As for the Democrats, they say they too don’t want war. You can see the American public purse its skeptical lips over that. President Barack Obama said he didn’t want war and then in his eight years more than doubled the billions of dollars that President George W. Bush in his high years had plowed into the Afghanistan war.

And now comes Mrs. Pelosi saying, “I don’t think the president wants to go to war. There’s no appetite for going to war in our country.”

She’s got that right. It cost her. She’s read the clinical studies showing that agreeing with Mr. Trump on anything has brought an abrupt end to the political life of otherwise perfectly healthy Democrats.

For the same reason it’s amazing that her knees didn’t wobble and her hands didn’t shake as she said, in effect, Donald J. Trump is sane and reliable on the issue of war and peace?
Iran, of course, isn’t buying the U.S. claim that the drone was over international waters when Iran shot it down.

“Shooting down the American spy drone had a message that the guardians of the borders of Islamic Iran will decisively respond to the violation of any stranger to this land,” Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Gen. Hossein Salami said Thursday.

By “stranger,” the general of course meant “infidel,” a word that would shred his statement’s credibility with non-Muslims.

I’ll bet it probably wouldn’t resonate all that well with that part of the Muslim world that has trouble finding in the holy book a command from Allah to slaughter all infidels.

“The only solution for the enemies is to respect the territorial integrity and national interests of Iran,” the Revolutionary Guard commander added.

Not an outlandish suggestion on the face of it, but tough to implement in the real world. Iran has long been cranky with the U.S. for meddling in its internal affairs and overthrowing a popular leader in 1953.

America has its own share of dyspepsia with Iran’s treatment of American hostages and prisoners. And with Iran’s masterminding of terrorism against us.

When you’re locked in this kind of this undeclared war, you don’t suddenly start respecting the other side’s borders, or stop spying or stop trading provocations — unless, perhaps, your name is Trump and you salute foreign-policy convention with one finger.

Mr. Trump, bless him, seems to be bringing some sanity, caution and restraint to the reality that a superpower is definitionally a target for a lot of bad actors globally. In many cases, the superpower willfully makes itself a target. And not always for the best of reasons.

The problem, of course, is that as exceptional as it is, the United States is made up of you and me and our ilk. We are governed by a human nature that can be atrociously embarrassingly at times.

That’s why Ben Franklin, Tom Jefferson and the guys fashioned the checks and balances against human foibles and follies while knocking back a few down at the City Tavern in Philly.

Here’s to them and a descendant named Trump.

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