President Donald Trump said Wednesday that Iran appears to be “standing down” and no Americans or Iraqis were harmed in Iran's missile strike on two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops.
Speaking from the White House, Trump seemed intent on de-escalating the crisis, indicating that he would not retaliate militarily for the strikes. Instead, he said the U.S. would immediately put in place new economic sanctions “until Iran changes its behavior" after that country's most brazen direct assault on America since the 1979 seizing of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Trump credited an early warning system “that worked very well" for the fact that no Americans or Iraqis were killed. He added that Americans should be “extremely grateful and happy” with the outcome. He reiterated his position that “Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon" and called for new nuclear negotiations to replace the 2015 nuclear deal from which he withdrew the U.S. Trump also announced he would ask NATO to become "much more involved in the Middle East process.”
The strikes on Tuesday pushed Tehran and Washington perilously close to war and put the world's attention on Trump as he weighs whether to respond with more military force. The Republican president huddled with his national security advisers on Wednesday morning but offered no immediate indication of whether he would retaliate. “All is well!” he said in a Tuesday night tweet. The lack of U.S. casualties could signal that Iran is not interested in escalating the tension with Washington - at least not now - and could give Trump an opening to calm relations with Iran and pull the U.S. back from the brink of war. Trump, who is facing reelection in November, campaigned for president on a promise to keep the United States from engaging in “endless war." President Donald Trump said Wednesday that Iran appears to be “standing down” and no Americans or Iraqis were harmed in Iran's missile strike on two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops.
With files from the Associated Press
Kenneth Pollack, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he works on Middle Eastern political-military affairs; he served twice at the National Security Council, first as director for Near East and South Asian affairs and then as director for Persian Gulf affairs
Aaron David Miller, senior fellow at the DC-based think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; former State Department Middle East analyst and negotiator in Republican and Democratic administrations; he tweets @aarondmiller2