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Trump’s Near Miss with Iran

Summary:
The drone strike that killed Qassem Suleimani not only brought the US and Iran to the brink of war; it exposed for all to see the disarray of US foreign policymaking under President Donald Trump. A majority of Americans think the episode has left the US less safe, and the incompetence displayed by Trump's team suggests they may be right. WASHINGTON, DC – The recent tense, dangerous exchanges between the United States and Iran have revealed a great deal about US President Donald Trump’s management of his foreign policy. The main conclusion is that he doesn’t have one. Weighty decisions are made on the basis of gut reactions and often-contradictory impulses – for example, simultaneously seeking agreement and threatening the use of

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The drone strike that killed Qassem Suleimani not only brought the US and Iran to the brink of war; it exposed for all to see the disarray of US foreign policymaking under President Donald Trump. A majority of Americans think the episode has left the US less safe, and the incompetence displayed by Trump's team suggests they may be right.

WASHINGTON, DC – The recent tense, dangerous exchanges between the United States and Iran have revealed a great deal about US President Donald Trump’s management of his foreign policy. The main conclusion is that he doesn’t have one. Weighty decisions are made on the basis of gut reactions and often-contradictory impulses – for example, simultaneously seeking agreement and threatening the use of force. If there is any overarching vision or philosophy, it is that he wants to avoid another long, costly war. And yet he almost blundered into one anyway.

When he campaigned for president, Trump promised to bring US troops home. He has sometimes declined to respond to provocations, particularly by Iran-backed groups around the Middle East. This lulled the Iranians – and almost everyone else – into thinking that he would continue to turn the other cheek. Eventually, some on the right wing of his Republican Party, and, most important, Fox News commentators, were calling him...

Elizabeth Drew
Contributor to New Republic, Daily Beast, Project Syndicate, Nation (book reviews). Fifteen books, including reissue of Washington Journal, Nixon & Watergate.

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