Trump’s Iran Reversal Raises Allies’ Doubts Over His Tactics, and U.S. Power

The public response of Western politicians has been largely cautious, sometimes confused. But some analysts also praised Mr. Trump’s restraint.

Comments: 187

  1. Firstly, do you have conclusive proof that the "abrupt reversal" did happen "minutes before American forces carried it out?" Mr. Trump walked that claim back in the interview with Chuck Todd. So what is the truth? Please do not confuse matters by asserting a contradicted claim. Secondly, do you realize you are being part of the problem by playing up the reality show part of this incident, the drama? It is almost like your quotes are little asides the characters in the show give to the camera during the show. Isn't it more important to ask why Mr. Bolton is spending so much time with Mr. Netanyahu? What is going on there? What are the real concerns of the Pentagon? Do they think this is a war we can win? If so, what does "win" mean, what are our objectives? Or is Mr. Trump just trying to rehash the JCPOA like he did NAFTA and rebrand it as a Trump policy? Just flimflammery? Or is there a bigger plan? What ARE the objectives of this administration's National Security Team vis-a-vis Iran? Never mind the drama and the emotions of the people involved. It will all be forgotten in the next episode or the one after that. The cost to our people - financially, in lives, in opportunities lost due to these wars, those are what remain and they are the main thing we should be talking about. We do not have a Defense Secretary, Britain, our closest ally, does not have a Prime Minister, and the EU is failing. "Reaction shots" of the various foreign players is irrelevant in the long run.

  2. @Suppan Thank you, Suppan, for making the absolutely essential points above. May I be so bold as to complement your summary - «The cost to our people - financially, in lives, in opportunities lost due to these wars, those are what remain and they are the main thing we should be talking about» by pointing out that it is not merely the cost to «our people» (presumably residents of the United States), but also the costs to others, in Iran, in Southwest Asia in general, and in the world as a whole, which should be the subject of discussion here.... Henri

  3. Among all the apparent chaos and lack of clear rational for the actions of this administration, could there actually be one very rational and cynical ambition, namely disturb the stability of the Middle East (and now it’s Iran’s turn) so that the world sees the region as a less reliable place to buy oil from? America has been a net exporter of refined petroleum since 2011. That means not only, it’s economy is less vulnerable now to oil prices from the Middle East going up, but it may actually benefit from that, to sell its own petroleum to the world. And this while oil is still the major source of energy for the world, which will be guaranteed in the next decade at least. So, there may be a cynical incentive from one pole of power in the United States (there are many poles of power, sometimes with conflicting interests), to destabilize the Middle East. Let’s not forget, that when you start looking at Trump’a actions from this perspective, they become very logical all of a sudden. He pulled out of the climate accord. His first Secretary of State was the CEO of ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil and gas company. His current Secretary of State, as reported by the Times, has been supported throughout his career by Koch, the billionaire involved in the oil industry. I wonder why nobody looks at it from this angle? A world super-power has turned from an oil importer to and exporter, and is now telling an old oil exporter (Iran), you can’t even sell a drop of oil.

  4. The factor unspoken in this story is that it is painfully obvious that Trump simply has no informed well-thought out rationales what he's doing. He pulls America out of the Iran deal, not because he has reasons to believe it was a bad deal, but simply because he repeatedly said it was a bad deal, bad for the sole reason that Obama (and five other countries) negotiated the deal with Iran. Likewise, his embrace of Kim Jong-un seems to be based on Kim's flattery of Trump, and not on any cognizable reason to believe he can reach any deal at all to even reduce North Korea's nuclear arsenal. In short, Trump just doesn't knw what he's doing.

  5. Allies see a pattern...well so do smart Americans. And none of these groups would vote for him or even associate with him if they could help it. A day does not go by that there is not some bad news with this Administration. They are either changing their minds, taking back a benefit, or refusing to accept the truth (such as Trump about the popular vote in 2016), and most of this comes with sincere and great frustration to those who would either have considered themselves an American friend or who are Citizens and who have been disgusted by the deterioration in the country's standing in the world, thanks to this corrupt and lying Administration -- Yes, make America Great Again should now be the allying cry of any worth their salt Democratic Candidate, as before Trump the country was doing just fine, but it is now that this phrase pertains. Only since Trump was elected has America's demise been a real possibility.

  6. Trump now claims he wants to negotiate with Iran without preconditions to prevent them becoming a nuclear power. Forgive me asking was there and is there still an agreement in place to achieve this which Trump chose to withdraw from. This agreement was painstakingly put into place by the USA , our allies, Russia and China.,A rare achievement indeed particularly as Iran was months from a bomb and it was a race against time Let’s be honest if Trump ever gets a similar agreement with North Korea he will be proclaiming it the best ever. Then we have Pompeo claiming Iran is a terrorist state as he rushes off to Saudi Arabia a state which is the breeding ground of terrorism 9/11, the origins of AlQuaeda and ISIS , Sunni organizations majority of Saudi members and founded on the basis of Wahibism that has its Sanctuary in Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia funded the Taliban, funds Madrasas around the world that preach hate They murder journalist, kill civilians, children in Yemen Yes Iran is a bad actor needs to forsake nuclear weapons and terrorism but ironically it helped defeat ISIs in Syria and Iraq. It has oil . A well educated population of 77 million , let’s bring it into the global economy as the original agreement anticipated In addition Pompeo scorns our allies in Europe , those allies that fought and died by our side in Iraq, Afghanistan , Syria This administration needs to explain itself and Speaker Pelosi should summons Pompeo to do this

  7. If you drop bombs on a city, people die. Who knew? Fortunately for the world the military chiefs mentioned this in time. Kudos to our president for listening.

  8. You are being facetious, aren’t you? Why is there a warlike stance towards Iran at all? How did we get here at all? War is not a game, something with which to taunt people with. This insanity needs to stop. Trump listens. He never should have heard anything or considered anything. @highway

  9. @C A Simpson - Google "history of American wars". Our Nation of Perpetual Wars certainly makes it look a game, and a highly profitable game for the Pluto-Corporatocracy.

  10. It’s like explaining to others viewing your 2 year old’s tantrum in the supermarket Who praises their child for stopping ? And if they don’t stop....

  11. This is what embarrassment looks like. That’s what this is.

  12. If Trump will attack = Trump is a war guy and he is provokating Iran to make the war. He is a bad bad guy. Left pacifist parties hate him because he start a very dangerous war risking life of our heroes in the gulf area! If Trump not attack = Trump is insecure and hesitant, not good for a USA president! this is the point of no return! Left pacifist parties hate him because he showing how USA foreign policy is weak, fearful and insecure! shame on him! What is the right choice? Simply the reality is far more complex than we expect and we do not know too many variables in these events.. interesting that every Trump move can do, it will always be considered a wrong action..

  13. @Aldo The idea that he called it off with planes in the air is what is concerning. Also he pulled out of Iran deal and now we are close to war with Iran. He made matters worse. He’s done the same with tariffs. Tearing up what was working and not replacing it. Time will tell but so far he has failed. Talks with China have ended for now. His history of failure in business does not inspire confidence either.

  14. What is actually fascinating is how much the media (including the New York Times) tries to inject supposes “deep thinking” into Trump’s impulsive decisions, when in fact there is no strategy at all and it’s obvious that he sees himself as a king. He reads nothing, listens to no one, and has no knowledge of anything. Yet somehow the headlines always speculate what a clever chess player Trump must be. He has no defense secretary, and us surrounded by a court of sycophants. Trump is a disaster. Trump has no strategy. Trump must go.

  15. @Brett luckily for us, with all of his faults, Trump sanely listened to Carlson. I rarely agree with Carlson but in this issue, he was spot on.

  16. @Brett B So true. For all we know, he called off the raid because he wanted to spend the weekend golfing instead of working.

  17. @Brett B The only strategic thinker is Putin, his puppet master. Now if the democrats could just reach out to Xi.

  18. Obviously, they wanted to get Iran to do something more rash; like down a manned plane or an unmanned one really and truly in international waters. They just didn't find enough grounds for an attack. None of their allies would've bought their side of the story had they started an all-out war in the region based on a lie. They've just had enough (in the EU). Or so I hope. I bet most of president and his advisers' time was spent on coming up with a consistent story for the public: "Yeah, we'll say we wanted to strike (to show that we're willing), but we didn't, in a humane act of kindness. We are the people who save lives. Even if one day we do strike, it's for reducing suffering in the world (Not for pushing our own agenda)."

  19. Trump does not want to be labeled the president that got us into the endless Iranian war, like Bush has been for Iraq. He is under tremendous pressure to strike, but as always Trump does what he wants to do regardless. Now he just needs a way to ease all the excess military out of the area so there is no mishap again and talks can start. But can he withstand the pressure not to do that by those who want war? We shall see, but I think he can.

  20. @C. Bernard Trump accepted Bolton's plan for exiting JCPOA despite the fact Iran has not violated the JCPOA, which the CIA has confirmed. Bolton's plan is to drive regime change not negotiate with the present government of Iran. The key to Bolton's plan is sanctions to drive Iran's oil exports to zero and decimate its economy and to encourage overthrow of Iran's government with the support of Netanyahu's Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The DOD mistrusts Bolton, but currently has no leader to standup and oppose Bolton. Bolton wants instability in Iran, because stable countries cannot be overthrown. We can expect accidents, because they advance Bolton's plan. The key to avoid mishaps and create conditions for dialogue is to fire John Bolton and hire an experienced military leader as national security advisor who would have the confidence of the DOD and other agencies and who would see as his or her mission to prevent war rather than to start a war with Iran.

  21. Mr. Trump is unpredictable in his action, because he has no consistent idea of what is going on in the world. Like a child, he confuses his wishes with the real state of affairs. Hence his continuous denial of facts as 'fake news'. How can the international community help oneself in such a situation? Probably best by ignoring this man and his government as much as possible. The price of this development will be that the US will loose its longstanding global moral leadership claim, maybe irreversibly. Don't underrate the material consequences of such a disruption.

  22. Let me get this straight: Trump does one of the few smart things he's done since entering the White House--not going to war with Iran based on a seriously flawed case for regime change that has too many echoes with the Iraq invasion to count--and this is a BAD thing? What have we become in the past two and a half years? Are so conditioned to trashing Trump that we can't give him one lousy thumbs up for not taking us into another Republican military misadventure (although I fully and freely acknowledge that Syria and Libya were Obama's and particularly Hillary's bad). This may be the only time Trump should continue listening to his gut. And we should praise him for it. The guy longs for praise. I, for one, am willing to give it to him if it leashes the dogs of war. We have much, much bigger fish we should be frying at this historical moment.

  23. @Pamela Lyon "... Trump does one of the few smart things he's done since entering the White House--not going to war with Iran based on a seriously flawed case …" Here's the BAD thing: The US flies a spy robot (drone) over Iran's airspace. Then when it is shot down, lies about the incident, then threatens to commit an egregious act of war over what, a drone for the love of god. So trump is smart for backing down after somebody reads him the riot act, threatens to expose the lie. How stupid does it get.

  24. @Pamela Lyon Pamela, Trump precipitated this entire course of events by pulling the US out of the nuclear agreement. Jebus, do some research. In no way does Trump deserve any kind of praise - he's an imminent danger to the entire world.

  25. Trump's volte face is not new. However, why this tension in the Middle East? I do not see any necessity for a war with Iran. First, Iran was blamed that it violated the nuclear agreement. But Iran has maintained that it is adhering to the conditions stipulated in the nuclear agreement. European inspectors too vouchsafe it. If at all Iran violates its promise, any action could be taken, that too only with the accord of the United Nations. Next, America painted a picture that oil tankers were attacked by Iran. With the shooting down of the drone, the chorus for war was loud initially. Maybe, during next occasion, Trump may could up with a reason to attack Iran. European leaders should not fall prey for yet another misadventure. Iraq, Libya and Syria are still nursing their wounds caused by unjust wars/intervention.

  26. President Trump got everyone in this pickle by pulling out of an agreement, however flawed, and escalating tensions with Iran. The agreement was achieving the objective he says he wants, no nuclear weapon in Iran. Now President Tucker Carlson has pulled us back from further escalation, at least until the war lobby can make another stab at it. Maybe Ambassador Carlson can actually get Iran and Trump to fall in love and we can get back to the JCPOA.

  27. War is not new. Using bone spurs to evade military service isn't new. Attributing to Trump a "military strategy" is a false equivalency. If there are 10 actions one can take in response to an event there is a high probability that one action will be taken over another and is unpredictable. Lying is unpredictable too. Trump threatens everyone he has conflict with by threatening a lawsuit, calls them names or currently can threaten with military action. Iran is a threat to its neighbors for some. Sanctions are surrounding the castle and starving the inhabitants. Oil stills feeds the veins of all countries. Trump is not known for walking away from a meal.

  28. In his campaign, Mr. Trump promised to focus on "America First" and to adopt a non-interventionist stance in foreign relations. Instead he has spent an inordinate amount on effort over the last two years creating international incidents. He withdrew from the JCPOA and then began provoking Iran. He abandoned the TPP and then instigated a trade was with China. He legitimized Kim Jong-un, who continues to develop nuclear weapons. This is to say nothing of his actions toward our allies. He called Canada a national security threat, and NATO a bunch of freeloaders. Nothing positive has come from any of this. Mr. Trump has only created problems in our foreign affairs, rather than focusing on domestic issues. This is the opposite of what he promised his supporters.

  29. As an expat American in Europe, I am saddened to see the chaos of the current administration in international affairs. I am reminded of past American international mistakes: late to WWI, failure to join League of Nations, late to WW II, Viet Nam, Iraq to name a few. Certainly, there have been offsetting moves: Marshall plan, United Nations, Nato, globalization, etc.that reflect the judicious use of US power to influence. The US has been an international power to be reconned with since the early 1900's but always with a strong dose of isolationism and focus on domestic issues as a body politic. Even now, this remains most Americans' focus, often ignoring its role in the larger world, thus enabling populists to have great influence. We contrast this with greater sophistication among Europeans holding a more holistic world view, albeit with a weaker hand. World leaders must now focus on climate change as the major threat to civilization that it poses. Once again, American leadership, that looked promising under Obama, has become a major drag on the need for action under Trump.

  30. The response of an isolationist. What do you mean no dog in the fight? With the Middle East far closer to Europe than America—absolutely Europeans have a major interest regarding a war with Iran. Where do you think the refugees from wars in the Middle East arrive—Europe—not America. Some Americans buffered by the Atlantic, the Pacific, and two non-aggressive nations in Canada and Mexico are dillusional. No-nothings, unable to see beyond narrow self-interest, as they deny the world community and American responsibly for our actions which effect all nations.

  31. Europe has taken all those refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan fleeing from the war zones where the US have been the ones de-stablizing the whole region for no reason. Or have you seen any weapons of mass destruction anywhere in Iraq? The USA is the worst war mongerer around (which is not to say Iran is a saint, but KSA and Israel are not any better).

  32. @There The primary driver for JCPOA was Europe and they have far more at stake than the U.S. If Iran developed nuclear weapons and was controlled by an extremist expansionist regime Europe would be threatened first. Hence the EU push for JCPOA. At this time the far greater threats are war with Iran and or regime change and civil war. Iran's population is 4X that of Syra. Millions of additional refugees from the Middle East could not be absorbed by the EU, which would threaten its survival. U.S. "maximum pressure" is intended to collapse the economy and force regime change. As a result the EU is doing all in its power to keep JCPOA intact and to find ways to circumvent Trump's unilateral sanctions against Iran that the EU defines as illegal.

  33. No one really knows what happened. No one knows whether the drone was over international air space of Iranian air space. No one knows why trump changed his mind shortly before the United States was prepared to do something irrational. We only know what we are being told by hawk Pompeo and trump. We know trump's history of changing his mind. We know the man lies continuously. We know he likes to taunt Iran. (Bully perhaps is a better word.) And we know he is up for reelection. Anything goes with that man. Anything. And we should not believe anything that comes out of his mouth. I suspect it was a "shrewd act of brinkmanship, trump style." I doubt he was ever concerned about 150 lives. H e doesn't seem to be concerned about African Americans being killed by police. He doesn't seem to be concerned about the poor immigrants (especially children) at the border. Two things he is concerned about. Trump and getting reelected.

  34. Take the evidence before the United Nations for everyone to see.

  35. President Trump started this entire brouhaha by pulling out of the Iran Nuclear Deal. Why should he get credit for not starting a war? At this point I would not blame any of our coalition allies who joined us in Iraq/Afghanistan for not wanting to be part of another useless war. Is Iran a bad actor? You bet it is but the man who claims to be the best negotiator in the world has stepped away from negotiation which is the only way to settle this problem.

  36. Dear experts and readers: Do you think Iran's shooting down of the drone was a potentially shrewd act of Brinkmanship? Or do you think such shrewd acts of brinkmanship are the exclusive domain of US Policy makers?

  37. Humans are meaning making beings, looking for patterns, seeking to understand. But this is a flawed approach to Trump. He simply is what he is: impulsive, overconfident, vain, self serving, and a liar. There’s nothing more to him, nothing deeper to discern.

  38. @Orange Nightmare For those of us who do not believe there is meaning in anything he says, his backstory is that he is damaged and dangerous. His pattern is obvious: he says whatever he thinks will make him look good in the moment. It can confuse anyone who seeks meaning.

  39. What's troubling is the lack of real council. Tucker Carlson is no substitute for a Secretary of Defence.

  40. “Trump’s rather unconventional decision-making style may have saved the day,” said Crispin Blunt, a senior Conservative lawmaker in Britain who is a former head of Parliament’s foreign affairs committee. -------------------------- It is far past time to stop crediting Trump with a "decision-making style" that has anything to do with a considered strategy. Two and a half year in to his presidency, Donald Trump remains and ill-prepared, erratic amateur. Over the past several days the only stated, concrete goal for the Iran policy of the United States is that Iran can not have a nuclear weapon. Until Trump pulled out of Iran nuclear agreement Iran was complying with a multilateral agreement that put Iran's nuclear weapons program on hold. But he did pull out and now the United States is acting alone and the region is tiptoeing toward lethal aggression. Is it a good thing Trump called off a retaliatory airstrike? Probably. But it wasn't strategy. Is it a good thing that Trump decided an order that was likely to result in 150 deaths was disproportionate? Yes. But how did he only think to ask for the estimate 10 minutes before the mission was a a go? It certainly speaks to the amateurism of his Administration and its decision making. How does the President suddenly care about 150 Iranians, sell arms to the Saudis because they buy American stuff, and put refugee children in cages in unsanitary conditions? His decisions are not unconventional -- the are erratic.

  41. It is a classical argument of war mongers that you will lose trust or look weak when you change your mind. But it is an empty argument that isn't supported by the facts. In contrast, knowingly pursuing war when you know that your arguments are wrong is a sure way to lose trust. The Iraq War is the perfect example for that. Given the doubt that the drone might have been in Iranian air space cancelling the operation was the only credible option.

  42. Allies? We still have allies? Trump creates the commotion then dials it back. What a hero. What a mess.

  43. Did the “strategy” of random decisions by the President lead to any solution of any of the numerous problems this administration apparently helped creating in the first place? The answer has to be a clear “no” so far and there is therefore only one possible assessment of it’s effectivity: it is a complete failure. From rising numbers at the border to the emboldened North Korea that is gathering now more power due to the expanding nuclear arsenal to the tensions with Iran - there are simply no “exit” strategies for any of these issues. That is not much different from the Bush administration at the beginning of the Iraq invasion and the perspective to be pulled into another endless war without knowing how to end it should really concern everyone in this country.

  44. Trump's transparent electoral contrivance to throw some red meat of warmongering to his hardcore supporters has fizzled. Like everything the liar we call 45 does, it soon wilts in the harsh light of disinterested examination and commentary. The fearful reality remains that such a person has such access to the machinery of state and can take the country along on a ruinous trip to distract from his high crimes and misdemeanors of the 2016 presidential race as detailed by Mueller...

  45. Mr. Trump has no strategy or plan for dealing with Iran, thus the danger. He’s shooting (or not shooting) in the dark. What’s his end game? No one knows.

  46. What’s the “strategy”? Undo anything Pres Obama accomplished, then wing it. What could possibly go wrong?

  47. Apparently, all Iran has to do is write a flattering letter to Mr. Trump and give him a photo op. It worked for North Korea.

  48. Does the NYT consider it their obligation and responsibility to endlessly parse Trump’s random TV-driven behavior as if he were a coherent leader, or do they do it just to inspire the outraged, income producing click-habits of an appalled constituency? Let’s all just be grateful that for the time being he chose - for whatever reason - not to commit mass murder because somebody shot down our illegal, unmanned drone, even though Hannity, Bolton and Pompeo urged him to.

  49. Illegal unmanned drone? Please.

  50. @Stephen Gianelli Legal, manned drone? Next time we’ll send it over Greece, see what happens.

  51. Has anyone actually contemplated that someone in our military refused to start a war. The joint chiefs, a regional general or even the admiral in charge of the ships ordered to launch a cruise middle barrage could have refused. I can dream.

  52. President Trump's behavior is actually very predictable. Who can actually say they have been surprised by anything he has said or done over the past two and a half years?

  53. Just stop. This is all a con. Pure theater. He created the tensions and wants to appear ‘the good guy’ for ratcheting them down at the last moment. But he wont next time or maybe the time after that.

  54. Wonder what Netanyahu is thinking now

  55. This country is lucky re-election is more important to to trump than bad press at the moment. Given his history we’re in a bad place too. trump will attempt anything he can deflect blame for. He’s under pressure now to be decisive. This administration if ever their was one lacks world class leadership skills and temperament to pull it off. Conflict abhors poor leadership. Like The populist Godfather said, keep your enemies far away and sanctioned and your friends distrusted and confused. America loves trump more than itself it appears. trump remains in office and will likely win in 2020 given trump control the GOP.

  56. "Thomas Gomart, the president of the French Institute of International Relations, a Paris-based research group, said that “what’s going on now is decisive in terms of the evolution of American leadership.”" "The evolution of American leadership"? What a ludicrous word for this presidency and administration! Leadership is not based on impulsivity, unreliability, erraticism, and unpredictibility. Those qualities might be useful in certain forms of war, to deceive and distract the enemy, but for a country they're disastrous. As a country, we are no longer trusted or respected. Allies and foes alike have seen our word means nothing, unless it is given to one of Donald Trump's favorites: strongmen who don't deserve his high regard. Just as Donald Trump is shredding our norms and values domestically, he's doing so internationally. He doesn't "lead" from strength, or values, or consistency, but from naked self-interest, ego, and ambition.

  57. Trump and team should read “How Trump Can Avoid War With Iran” by Susan Rice in today’s NYT. And then follow its advice.

  58. @Davey Boy Oh yes, the brave and wonderful Susan Rice, who, while vetoing a security council resolution condemning Israel -- a resolution every word of which the US had not only agreed w but had spoken itself -- argued to her colleagues that international law had no place in SC deliberations. And look! Just like Bill Richardson -- employed forever.

  59. Sorry, I don´t understand the US view about the reversal in the headline. - Mr. Trump has produced a long chain of wrong views and false decisions under Israeli/S-A influence concerning Iran for months before. - To tighten economic pressure and to increase military threats in M-E against Iran had been consistent and steady steps in his escalation strategy. No ally is able to stop Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump is Mr. Trump as you might know. This has nothing to do with Ms. May as a lame duck. Even a reborn Churchill could stop him. How should they do when even the entire who-is-who of the American (bipartisan) foreign policy class isn´t able to do so? If someone tries he is going to be fired sooner or later like Mr. Mattis or, or. UK is overating it´s abilities again. - Such long term and consistent escalation strategy will end up to military clashes if not war. First skirmishes - tanker, drones -have already taken place. The next step would have been air raids. No surprise. - Mr. Trumps stop signal is absolutely not erratic but the first reasonable decision making in a long row of miscalculated but consistent decisions of his Iran policy. This policy is irrational and wrong but inherently conclusive. - The loss of control lies not in his order to stop the raid but to start his recent policy months ago necessarily moving closer to a unwelcomed conflict worser than "Iraq II". The question is: Why he is barking so loud when everybody knows he cannot bite at a good price?

  60. Why don’t former secretaries of defense and state department speak out? And especially Colin Powell who needs redemption as without his support we might have avoided the disastrous ongoing Iraq conflict which has destabilized the Middle East and caused so much needless death and destruction.

  61. @Yuri Pelham Why on earth would Powell or others speak out against war? Because war is profitable for them. We’ve proven time and again over the past 20 years in particular that there are no consequences for cabinet members who orchestrate war, human rights abuses here and abroad.

  62. @Yuri Pelham Colin Powell has spoken out as has John Kerry. There are powerful interests that view Trump as the opportunity of a century to weaken or destroy Iran. No comparable opportunity is likely to emerge in the foreseeable future so expect an all out push for war with the high likelihood of false flag attacks while Trump is in power.

  63. In reference to the Iranian Nuclear Deal - “Mr. Trump and his advisers said the deal did not do enough to curb Iranian influence in Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.” Trump is referring to Shia Iranians fighting back against the Sunni Saudi sponsored terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The Saudis are the largest financiers of Al Qaeda, ISIS and other terrorist groups and also spread radical Wahhabi ideology to jihadist terrorists around the world. The US is providing massive air support and weapons to Al Qaeda as part of the Saudis genocide in Yemen targeting civilians. There is no indication of Iran is providing weapons to the Houthis in Yemen their friends. In Lebanon the Iranians Shiite friends are provided limited weapons for defense against Israeli aggression. It should be noted Israel is an ally of Sunni Saudi Arabia and “bonesaw” bin Salmon and supports their many wars destabilizing the Middle East. The US and its policy stands on the side of ISIS and Al Qaeda. 15 of the 19 9/11 terrorists were Saudi - NONE Iranian.

  64. Trump could accurately say, “I am the most ambiguous president of all time! No President has experienced more success at being unclear than me.”

  65. So Trump backs down because 150 people would die. Then he goes on Meet the Press and says he will essentially annihilate Iran if it goes any further. That will kill how many innocent people? I am assuming , by his words, that those deaths will be proportionate. This is all advertising. The product does what the seller says it will. But when you buy it and take it home, it sits on the shelf because it never really does. Here is the real problem. Trump is like a little boy with a magnifying glass on a hot summer's day. He figures out what the magnifying glass can do to a bug on the sidewalk. He gets so excited by his new found power he looks for other targets to try it out on. And every day the Eddie Haskells in his administration come to the door of his house , tell his wife how "pretty she looks today", go up to Donnie's room and say "C'mon let's go outside, it's sunny out. And bring that magnifying glass with you".

  66. Do US allies also see the conclusional pattern that’s been laid out by Trump from the very beginning of his career: crash and burn, bankruptcy and insolvency, lawsuit after lawsuit, pennies on the dollar in restitution, and much bitterness. That’s how it will go for the United States before Trump is through, and with us goes much of the world.

  67. Thank goodness Tucker Carlson had the courage to call out the warmongers and advise sanely that war with Iran would be a huge mistake. And he rightly criticized Bolton for being the sociopathic neocon that he is. How can anyone who has been awake for the last decade say with a straight face that the US war in the Middle East has been a success? I visited Iran in 2007 and it was a beautiful established place with a rich culture and a population who likes Americans! I also spent quite a bit of time in Syria around the same time, and met wonderful people and explored countless gorgeous historically significant places, our world’s cradle of civilization. We must stop destroying other countries.

  68. @Noah You're right, better to bomb first and ask questions later. That has always worked out for us.

  69. @Noah No. We could have abided by the Iran agreement Trump drew out of with no better plan in mind. Now we have a fiasco.

  70. Trump is totally consistent. He threatens opponents and when the threat doesn't work he settles for the status quo ante with cosmetic changes disguised as a victory. NAFTA, North Korea, Iran, Russia, China, NATO, India, Mexico paying for the wall, immigration, climate treaty, pollution limits, air and water quality, fossil fuels, coastal oil leases, U.S. budget negotiations, stonewalling congress; the list goes on. He's a paper tiger on a tightrope. He can't let himself be seen as weak but is frightened of consequences he can't reverse once real damage becomes obvious. Moreover he's truly alone; none of the people around him that he's brought on board to run the government will save him. No one respects him. They cabinet level appointees are all committed to aggressive and bogus theories of statecraft and economic policy. The rest are sycophants and/or crooks. All that's required now is that one of his daredevil decisions takes him beyond the point of no return (and the number of trip wires are increasing). His base will go south, the GOP will take cover and he'll be out on his ear as well as being subject to prosecution. His modus operandi is crystal clear and now everyone sees the tantrum game of the impotent little would-be emperor.

  71. @A.S., exactly he like to claim Victory so he stays in the media. why the media continues this I have no idea. praise him for stopping it, why arent' they shaming him for starting something on innocent women and children in the first place. The media is playing his game.

  72. @A.S. "All that's required now is that one of his daredevil decisions takes him beyond the point of no return (and the number of trip wires are increasing)." Problem is, with a POTUS, the wrong mistake at the wrong time could be a disaster for the US. His base going south and the GOP taking cover won't help, and putting him out on his ear could be much too late for thousands of Americans dead and a significant part of the world plunged into war. And Putin would grin like a Cheshire Cat.

  73. @A.S. Good post, but the cult of Trump shows no sign of abating yet and perhaps it never will.

  74. And of course off the record these same allied leaders believe Trump is a mindless carnival barker who has no idea what he's doing......and their right. Hopefully our allies will cut us some slack until 2020 when voters reverse this greatest unforced error in American political history

  75. I hope Pompeo and Trump can be stopped before Iran and the rest of the players in the Middle East have nuclear weapons. Their policies could very well produce the catastrophic outcome they are trying to prevent. Of course, that would be in line, tragically, with right wing Christian theology.

  76. Point well made: “But it is also part of “a continuing picture of American uncertainty about the use of power,” Mr. Sheinwald said. “It is the leitmotif that runs throughout U.S. history.” The late entry of the USA into both World Wars in the 20th Century, and the political struggles between isolationists and militarists which preceded a US commitment shouldn’t be forgotten. As counterintuitive as it may seems, Donald Trump may be more typical of American Presidents than we’d like to think.

  77. "Explicit condemnation came mostly from analysts and lawmakers without formal positions in government." This sentence begs one to consider who then may offer rational criticism. How is it a lawmaker does not have a formal position in government? Going back to the start of the article, one reads that criticism or praise came from "Some" and "others." Then cited as offering a degree of support for Trump's erratic decision making are a former British ambassador, and "leaders of Britain, France and Germany." There is also cited next "a senior Conservative..." in British Parliament. Mireille Clapot offered a rational critique. She is positioned in the article as "without formal positions in government" yet is an elected member of parliament. Is it the position of this reporter that only political appointees in government and those in executive offices have valid standing to criticize this erratic pattern of decision making?

  78. In the UK's parliamentary system, an individual "in government" belongs to the ruling party, namely the Conservatives. Ministers of other parties--Labour, Lib-Democrat, Green--may be seated at Westminster, but they do not hold the reigns of power and are, therefore, not "in government."

  79. Of course, POTUS is going to get a blowback on this flip flop - and rightfully so. I am a Republican who supports this POTUS - but I hope that the ex Israeli general is right. Otherwise, it's another Kerrey jewel: "I voted for it before I voted against it." If this ain't a flip flop, ask him why he lost the election. If he had indeed launched an attack - I can't understand why he thinks it would necessarily be a war. From Bush Sr., Clinton and W - we launched many missiles at Saddam, but the only time a war happened was when W decided enough was enough. If a missile attack on Iran had happened - it was Iran's call to decide whether it is worth going into a full blown war against us. I think it is being very charitable to give him credit for telling the world he is reluctant to enter into another middle east war. But if he just wanted to send a message - he could have, as they used to say in the past "used Western Union." This whole idea that this was strategic move - is being extremely kind to him. It reminds me of Storming Norm said about Saddam and his military acumen : "...As far as Saddam Hussein being a great military strategist, he is neither a strategist, nor is he schooled in the operational art, nor is he a tactician, nor is he a general, nor is he a soldier. Other than that he's a great military man-I want you to know that."

  80. He has forever damaged or at least in the short run America's image in the world even after he leaves. Other countries both friend, foe and in between will never trust America again and will think twice re dealing with us. I know I would. I would demand iron clad guarantees or more in return in any deal since America's word has been tarnished by him.

  81. Now is the time to think about what Joe Biden would do as President if Iran attacked us.

  82. @Julia Why should Iran attack us?

  83. Biden would go back into the nuclear agreement with Iran...problem solved. The problem is not just Iran. Saudi Arabia & UAE are Aldo destabilizing the ME.

  84. A simple false flag operation, initiated by one of those so-called 'allies', could be the catalyst that sparks a catastrophic and unnecessary US reaction. But, we won't read the truth about it for many years. This has been used many times in the past by the US as a pretext for war, and rest assured, it will be used again. Wake up America!

  85. President Trump has been following the plan for regime change in Iran offered by John Bolton that enabled him to exit JCPOA and to impose sanctions on Iran intended to reduce Iran's oil exports to zero and collapse its economy. McMaster, Kelly, Mattis, Tillerson and other top administration had advised Trump to not exit JCPOA because the CIA had confirmed Iran had not violated JCPOA and was not developing nuclear weapons. Bolton and Pompeo lied to Trump that Iran was developing nuclear weapons. They also claimed that the government of Iran would be brought to its knees and open for negotiations with Trump. Bolton's plan however made negotiations with Trump political suicide for the present leadership of Iran. Bolton wanted no negotiations, but regime change. Military action against Iran is part of the plan whose outline was in the August 2017 article "How to Get Out of the Iran Nuclear Deal". There are many signs that Trump resents Bolton's power plays. His last minute decision to call off the attack puts Trump back in control, free to negotiate or to implement Bolton's plan . Iran fought in Syria and Iraq not to threaten Israel or to expand to the Mediterranean, but rather to defeat ISIS, which is the same reason why the U.S. intervened in Syria. Sunni sponsored terrorist groups threaten Iran. Iran has no need of nuclear weapons, but Iran has security interests. Trump could open the door to negotiations by recognizing the threats to Iran's security.

  86. Your government and both parties are lying to you. Both Democrats and Republicans take millions from defense contractors. The Corporate media is selling war like its their job. 6 Trillion tax dollars since 2003 spent on keeping us safe. Do you feel safe? I think the greatest threat we face as a country is our defense contractors that want profit.

  87. @gene Its also a major source of profitable exports, and arming everyone ensures constant conflict, at ever more costly levels.

  88. @gene Further to your point, is all the defense money we're spending effective? Missile technology now has at least 1500 mile range, can be mobile launched anywhere, land or sea, with GPS accuracy. What does this say about the safety and efficacy of our once omnipotent Navy? What's more, the defense shield technology developed by Russia being purchased by Turkey questions the efficacy of our Air Force.

  89. The mass media loves war. It's great for business.

  90. I am not a partisan of either party. My opinion about Trump is based upon his policies and official actions, not based upon his personal behavior. I am uncertain whether Trump's decision to refrain from attacking Iran wise or not. I have long rejected the principle of proportional response. That is a wise principle for the weaker of 2 contesting parties. It is also wise when the 2 entities are close to equal is strength. But it is unwise for a clearly stronger party since it means accepting losses without a retaliation that sends a message that the weaker party can repeatedly attack again and again and not risk severe retaliation. On the other hand, I have also long advocated that there is a much preferable alternative to wars since so many people on all sides suffer so much in conflicts that they had no part in starting. I am convinced of the wisdom and superiority of a policy and practice to assassinate war mongering foreign leaders.

  91. @Errol Pres Trump's history of instability and absence of integrity cannot be separated from any policy or action he might consider.

  92. @tennvol30736 I think you certainly can separate the wisdom of a policy or action from the character of the leader. You are correct that instability and integrity are relevant to choosing the leader. But once the leader is in power, then his policies and actions stand on their own merits. That is how a good person as leader can choose to pursue a wrong or unwise policy or actions. Similarly, a bad person as leader can nevertheless pursue a wrong or unwise policy or action.

  93. Trump, Bolton, and Pompeo are the last three people I would entrust with the major question, what to do with the United States power.

  94. @CMW Your position is interesting because I believe Trump, Pompeo and Bolton are EXACTLY who we need to fix the so-called "Iran Nuclear Deal" which was Obama and Kerry's efforts to realign the USA's Mid East alignment away from Saudi Arabia and Israel to Iran.

  95. With the radar shields Turkey is buying from Russia, missile technology that has emerged, U.S. naval and air power may not be as effective as it once was.

  96. You need to start from Trump's perspective. What is in Trump's best interest? That is how the President evaluates decisions. A war with Iran is not in the President's best interest. The voting electorate, even his supporters, are not keen on war. If there is a better way to ensure a one term Trump, please enlighten me. That places Trump out on the curb with all his legal troubles still intact. That's the absolute last thing Trump wants. Hence, no war with Iran. For that we should be grateful. However, we shouldn't thank Tucker Carlson for drawing the President's attention to his catastrophic blunder. Trump was about to walk himself right off a cliff. Next time, let him go. The entire world will breathe a collective sigh of relief when this President is gone.

  97. I have NEVER seen so many gullible people when it comes to this president. You believe anything said by him. The drone was deliberately sent as a taunt . I believe Iran when they said it entered their air space, not America. Why Iraq!! Vietnam. Need I say more? This has been going on since 1953 after a duly, democratically elected leader, Mohammad Mosaddeq, the 35th prime minister for Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah. Their rule led to the revolution in 1979 and our allowing the Shah shelter her, The Cleveland Clinic, led to the hostage taking. Since Iran had the revolution, all we hear is hatred and bitterness. It makes me think of Haiti and her fight for freedom in 1791 under Toussaint Louverture and the hatred and revenge shown them by America and other allies. America won't quit until Iran becomes a wasteland of poverty, also.

  98. Could we please stop pretending that HE has ANY tactics, plans, "strategery " or doctrine ?? He is flying by the seat of his ample pants, PERIOD. It's only a matter of time before he commits an irreversible error, leading to absolute Disaster. Thanks, GOP. 2020.

  99. Trump's uncertainty means no one trusts him. And China will benefit when the U.S. won't get the allies it needs. A very sad commentary to continue down this risky familiar path all the way through 2024.

  100. This is no shrewd political strategy of brinkmanship, but the push-pull manipulation technique of the narcissistic personality, writ large on a world stage. By switching constantly between actions and words of friendship and then combativeness, it is a method of causing cognitive confusion to assume a feeling of power over the other. Abuse, in a word.

  101. After reading your opening paragraph that claimed “Some framed it as another empty threat ... some saw a potentially shrewd act of brinkmanship”, I scanned the article for evidence of this divided view. And it turns out you almost every single one of our allies in Europe and Asia saw it as an empty threat or worse and only Netanyahu tried to spin it as shrewd because it suits his domestic agenda. Let’s not pretend this has split global opinion down the middle.

  102. What is most troublesome is not the fact that our allies' doubts of Trump's leadership have been exacerbated, but rather that our Republicans in Congress and supporters at large reman deliberately ignorant to this man's utter destructiveness. It is a good thing that a few nations are making efforts for both Iran and the US to meet and begin reparations. Yet how shameful and humiliating that not one politician is insisting on the same. If there is anything we should have learned it is the fact that diplomacy and negotiations are the routes to some kind of peace and security. Remember that Mr. Trump is but an egotistical showman, vulnerably weak to both the manipulations of Pompeo and Bolton here in America and our adversaries abroad. This is the man whose "art of the deal" mantra has bankrupted his soul to the point of being irredeemable. And he is in the process of bankrupting our democracy.

  103. The United States has been a declining power for much of the last 50 years or so. Trump is merely the final and emphatic nail in that coffin. If you want to envision the trajectory of our country going forward, think Britain.

  104. @LW "Make American Great Again" "Keep America Great"

  105. @Amy bravo, two mottos from an alt universe where truth doesn’t matter.

  106. Think Portugal on the 17th century.

  107. One explanation might be that Trump hesitated/changed because he found out the US did violate Iranian airspace.

  108. Most analysis of Trump's behavior assumes his mind is normal. But the deer-in-the-headlights look in his eyes in many photographs says he is not.

  109. "Mr. Trump’s order to attack Iran on Thursday in retaliation for its downing of a spy drone, and his abrupt reversal minutes before American forces carried it out, have intensified global doubts about the president’s judgment and the power wielded by the United States." "Global doubts?" To say the least and those doubts are thriving in America. No checks and balances will do that to a country

  110. Trump called off the strike because a war with Iran would have doomed his chances for reelection. End of story.

  111. @Jacqueline Gauvin And that is exactly what Tucker Carlson told him.

  112. Spout off, bully, relent and repeat. This is his signature way of conducting business at home and abroad to maximize the media headlines and his base gets the bones to gnaw on.

  113. Those who see Trump as shrewd are dangerously mistaken. Trump is not shrewd. He is an ego-driven narcissist with often childish mood swings who trusts his gut more than his advisers, is often confused and frequently contradicts himself in the same sentence. Having such a man in charge of America's nuclear arsenal courts disaster.

  114. @Christy what I can’t fathom is why those who formulated the American Constitution could not foresee the rise of a tyrant like Trump, and didn’t put multiple iron clad protections, clauses, and laws in place in that Constitution to protect themselves, and us, from such a tyrant. After all, they had just rebelled against just such a tyrant only a few years before. Now we have a mad king with his finger on the nuclear trigger!

  115. It seems the Times missed the attack we did launch that crippled the Republican Guard's computer network and the fact that we are applying the massive additional sanctions.

  116. Dear allies and not soon to be enemies, I hope: All you have to do to understand Trump’s policy is to watch Fox News. Sure Carlson, Hannity, and Pirro are not beautiful sights to behold and their logic resemble a pretzel, but these despicable racists are who really runs America now. Save yourself some diplomats and get into TV. Sincerely, Someone Trump voters would can elite

  117. Everyone ties themselves into a pretzel trying to divine a deeper strategy, because the reality - that we’re being “led” by a totally unqualified, incompetent, ignorant, narcissistic overgrown child - is too horrifying to contemplate. There is no strategy. There is no plan. There is no “shrewd” chess move with deeper layers invisible to the naked eye. There is simply a human wrecking ball who should never have been President destroying a quarter-century of American democracy in a single term.

  118. @David So true! I shake my head when I hear the overthinking people give to Trump's decisions.

  119. There is a very simple solution that Iran can employ to make sure Trump is their BFF: Tell him what a great guy he is, and offer him a deal on a luxury hotel in Tehran. Come to think of it, this is a ploy that could insure peace around the world: Trump Hotels in Pyongyang, Caracas, etc. Greed is good! (sarcasm...)

  120. Trump may not want to kill 100 Iranian civilians (yet) in retaliation, but he doesn't mind the deaths of immigrant children, the separation of hundreds from parents, and supporting Saudi Arabia's MBS after he ordered a journalist hacked to death. We could use a few less "humanitarian" leaders.

  121. Trump is not loved by the political class and those who surround him do so to push certain egregious agendas such as war with Iran. What Trump did was courageous knowing that he had to explain this decision to a 'muscular' base and go against the wishes of his only supporters amongst the political class i.e. the neoconservatives. Instead of celebrating his decision the left is using this to score cheap points: the narrative is that this will embolden the Iranian government. The Iranian government is not stupid, it has survived 40 years of external interference and many serious attempts by its own people to be overthrown. It sees Trump's decision as prudent de-escalation, nothing more, nothing less.

  122. @Someone There is nothing courageous about Trump's decision. You are overthinking it. Tucker Carlson told him the strike would jeopardise his re-election. He called it off. End of story. Our foreign policy advisors are hosts on Fox News. Meh.

  123. The notion that this president has any plan or any ideas on anything is laughable. He is a stimulus-response psychologists dream.

  124. Restraint? What restraint? Trump should have assessed the casualty, collateral damages, etc. before he ordered an attack. You don't call a halt 10 minutes before striking, as reported. If true, this reflects the chaotic process, if any, and whimsical conditions in the WH for Trump to make a decision. I shudder at the thought of his rudderless leadership.

  125. He cannot be gone soon enough. He has butchered our presidency and his destruction of so many institutions, traditions, and relationships is ongoing. He has trashed the Constitution, our system of checks-and-balances, the judiciary and totally divided our nation. The inhuman immorality of divided-family policy and the conditions in his for-profit Concentration Camps are a stain on the soul of our nation. To top it all off his fiscal policies have exploded the deficit, plunging us deep into debt as he and his cronies loot our future. His suggestions that he might not be willing to accept his (crushing) defeat are chilling. Look no further than the actions of the militias out in Oregon who threaten violence in support of the radical republicans who refuse to participate in the democratic process and you see just how toxic things have become. We are provoked to "Send heavily-armed bachelors" to retrieve our Democracy? If it were up to me I would answer his threat with maximum force and send a clear message: This will not stand. We will do whatever is necessary to regain some semblance of balance and sanity. Enough is enough.

  126. If we know what he did because he said so, how do we know what he did?

  127. A word to Noah of Canada: Your oh-so-serious analyses of Trump’s mercurial moves and his lurching from one train wreck to another gives me an idea. Let’s send Trump to Canada and see how long it takes him to wreak havoc with that perfectly nice country.

  128. Canada has very civilized immigration laws, but even they would draw a line with allowing Trump to come in.

  129. @Noah, results, yes: massive tax cuts for the rich, eviscerating environmental laws, stacking the Supreme Court with right-wing, reactionary judges. Plus he’s a threat to the rule of law. You may like these results but you’re in the minority.

  130. @Noah Disastrous results, Noah. We have the most powerful man in the world lying and spinning, and his policies are ping ponging erratically with potential damage to the entire world.

  131. I agree with Phyliss of Wichita: these serious analyses of 45’s every move make me laugh. It reminds me of a bunch of parents sitting around commenting on their toddlers playing together: “Oh, look, he’s really hoping Bobby will give him the she’s really mad because someone knocked over her stack of blocks...oh, look, he’s hugging Hannah ‘cause they love each other....” Reading anything into anything 45 does is a waste of perfectly good column inches. The orange lights are on, folks, but nobody’s home.

  132. Thank you, I've been saying this for YEARS. It like trying to teach a Dog algebra. No offense to actual Dogs.

  133. @Bluebeliever Very true. it is silly how so much stock is weighed into Trump's supposed decision making process. Your analogy was perfect.

  134. Obama and Kerry tried to change the USA's Mid-East alliance away from Saudi Arabia and to Iran, while snubbing Israel in the process. A plane filled with $400 million in US currency and the so-called "Iran Nuclear Deal" were but the beginnings; Hillary was supposed to conclude the realignment. Trump was absolutely correct to back out of Obama and Kerry's deal. Trump was absolutely correct to threaten retaliation, and also correct to withhold it. Bolton and Pompeo are the right people to get things straight with Iran.

  135. It does not so good right now for getting fixed.

  136. @99percent Oh please, the plan wasn't perfect but it was working. Iran was complying. It'd be one thing if Trump pulled out because he had a better idea but he only did this because Obama was involved. It made us look bad to pull out and now Iran is producing uranium.

  137. The money sent to Iran was THEIR money kept frozen in U.S. banks since 1979 + interest. John Bolton was one of the main reasons for the debacle in Iraq. His philosophy didn't work then and there is no good outcome if we repeat the same mistakes now. Shall we reincarnate "Bomb-bomb-bomb, bomb-bomb Iran?"

  138. There are consequences. Donald Trump is no longer the real estate gambler who can simply bail out of failed actions and declare bankruptcy, leaving others to pay for his ego trips. He is the President of the USA and his gamesmanship impacts the entire world. Bankruptcy is not an option. There are consequences for us all.

  139. It's probably fair to say that most of this country's allies have had doubts about Donald Trump's tactics and abuse of U.S. power ever since he entered the White House, as his tendency to abruptly change course at he last minute is well known by now. No doubt what they and most Americans are probably wondering at this point is, how much longer will this go on?

  140. Trump did exactly what he should have. While the military was preparing for the strike, he was still listening and weighing which way to go. First that no lives have been lost. Should he kill people over a piece of metal. It is expansive metal but how many lives is that worth. Second, that some in their military were furious at the commander who launched the attack. So instead of killing people. We’ve made our own mistakes. In 1988 we blew up an Iranian passenger plane and killed 290 people, 60 of those were children. Trumps lets us launch a cyber-attack. There are still places where the response may not be so restrained, such as if lives are lost. We know this was no mistake but it may not have been the will of the military as a whole. The second is shipping. Keeping the shipping lanes open is to our national interest. In the meantime, Europe got a hint of trouble ahead. It is to their interest to calm the tension. They now have a chance to talk with Iran. the question is will Iran listen. The agreement that Trump got us out of was flawed. They were to stop progress on making nukes for a few years. 10, 15, 20 years are nothing to them and at the end it, would have no restraints on nukes. They can work on perfecting missiles to use once the time is up. New money they allowed them to finance involvement ion other countries’ turmoil and support terrorism. Sanctions hurt Iran and Trump can tighten them more. We can use those now and save the killing for later if need.

  141. If I read you correctly, you are saying that Europe needs to step in as the international order-keeper since the US has not only abdicated that role, but is now ourselves wreaking havoc worldwide. Is this what we want??

  142. @Ron The agreement wasn't perfect, but Iran was complying. It made us look unreliable to back out of it. It was lawyers and Tucker Carlson that advised him not to do the strike. Tucker said it might hurt his chances of re-election. It's a sad stafe of affairs that foreign policy is dictated by tv hosts.

  143. Please read Michael Wolff's 'Siege." This man is completely incapable of doing anything. He can't concentrate on anything for more than a few moments, and is incapable of learning anything. His aides have all adopted the strategy of getting him distracted so he won't mess things up. There no consequences that mean anything to him other than his own need to manage his narcissism from one moment to the next. Shrewd brinkmanship? It's enough to make a cat laugh.

  144. Create a problem and become the focus of any perturbation in the problem. The Iran agreement was valid and its existence could have been duplicated in five years if Iran backed away from its commitment. Trump has trashed the agreement and created a path to war that will become part of his reelection campaign. The delay in the strike simply redirected attention to Trump. Who can trust a liar? Since when have you placed any confidence in a liar? The start of the war is only delayed by weeks.

  145. I wonder if President Trump talks to himself regarding his erratic Middle East policies: ‘I really am a genius. Iraq! Iran the table on those guys!’ Is he Syria? Egypt our European allies by changing his mind regarding Iranian containment in 2018. Mr President, do not take this lightly. It’s not a game. Israel.

  146. After two and a half years of tweets, trump is still amused by his egotistical power of keeping himself front and center. Republicans continue to play the game as they continue to get everything they could ever have hoped as legislation is painfully difficult. One day it just might backfire with their maniac in charge.

  147. Now Trump wants to talk with Iran with no preconditions. Well that's today. Who knows what he will say tomorrow? Meanwhile, Pompeo is visiting Saudi Arabia and the UAE while Bolton is schmoozing with Netanyahu, all three countries are proclaimed enemies of Iran. So what's the 'signal' here? Who is really running this show? Because what is being reported and or anaylized does not examine the 'backroom' schemes and deals going on behind the trump show.

  148. @Elizabeth "Who is really running this show?" The one w the checkbook. He got from gambling w American lives.

  149. He announced tariffs against Mexico, called them off and claimed that he had made a winning deal. He announced that he was going to deport millions of immigrants and called it off when Nancy Pelosi phoned to discuss a deal. He wanted a new deal with Iran, but was not able to set it up. Now most world leaders are calling for new negotiations. He is playing "lets make a deal" and this is Its one of his favorite opening moves.

  150. One has to question the narrative being offered of this decision-making process. When someone puts the word "proportionate" in Donald Trump's mouth, it grates against every thing he has ever done in his entire career.

  151. This is a serious problem created by donald j trump that he is incapable of solving. He blew up an internationally agreed upon situation for what? Now the US stands alone at the brink of war with no plan, no goals, and no support! And trump has no idea of what to do but bluff. And now everyone, but Mexico, seems ready and willing to call his bluff! Where do we go from here?

  152. Reading the comments, it is quite apparent that others have a much greater understanding of the Iran Nuclear Deal. (But without question, the Iran interventionist doctrine of Bolton and Pompeo needs to be contained. Look for their exit very soon.) However, in an overview of Trump's first 2+ years in office, one event is very apparent. He is moving America in the direction of a mercantile nation. Its actions look more and more like that of an export-driven nation-e.g. Germany, China. And there is the reason for all the "foreign distress". The American military shield is being primarily used for the benefit of America. It is no longer a globalist protection mechanism. And, as a result, economic stress is being placed on former allies who for decades practiced parasitism. From Australia, Japan and Western Europe you hear the same complaint. America's military is slowly drawing into the mid-Atlantic and mid-Pacific. It forces wealthy nations, who have previously used capital in other directions, to reassess needs. And, compounding their collective problem, international capital is returning to North America. (Over the recent past, always a safe haven in times of uncertainty.) Without question, America's economy is improving. And, isn't that what he promised?

  153. @R Wrong on so many levels! When I was an econ student, mercantilism was the "straw man" that the text book used to show how knee-jerk economics didn't work. And it's not working. As the good governance of the Obama administration is reversed, the economy is keeling over like a massive ship with a hold in the side. "President Trump has made the economy so much better that it has added 186,000 fewer jobs in his first seven months than it did in President Barack Obama’s last seven months." (September 1, 2017) As Trump's obstruction of trade starts to bite, things will get worse ... much worse. "Capital" might be flocking to America's safe haven for billionaires, but that doesn't add up to a great economy ... especially in the long run.

  154. @Dan Mabbutt Yes, mercantilism is the anathema of a globalist. However, China and Germany have been using it for many decades. And without any viable argument, to their economic advantage.

  155. There was no brinkmanship here. Just gross incompetency.

  156. What military industrial complex companies were pushing Obama and Kerry (and Hillary) to move away from Israel and Saudi Arabia and towards Iran? What was the real objective? (It certainly was not a nuclear-bomb-free-Iran!)

  157. The root cause, America's assertion that it is our responsibility to keep the global peace and maintain the global order, is both the problem and the answer. The problem is the role we created after 1945 is becoming unworkable and prohibitively expensive for the US on many levels.The world has changed and continues to change fundamentally. The information age is very rapidly rendering as obsolete old assumptions about relations between nations. The solution is to simply walk away from this role into a stance which is about doing the best we can for our own citizens and not attempting the role of Sisyphus in extremis.

  158. Unfortunately, the author does not understand Donald Trump's negotiating style. Most of the comments he quoted are inane.My advice: Sit quietly and watch.

  159. Trump’s strategy(?) is to present himself as a madman . His adversaries don’t know what he will do next and this may cause some of them to change course . Or it may cause a terrible war .

  160. Not one mention in the article of Putin’s reaction to trumps aborted attack. Odd. Print edition headline- “U.S reversal on Iran strike confuses allies”. Should have then said- but Putin’s happy. Ha. Putin is our enemy BUT tRumps biggest ally. Putin announced attacking Iran was a bad idea. trump obeyed orders and made the only ally he cares about happy. Seems the only ones confused are those who are ignoring the elephant in the room.

  161. @Jane Schewior. Tucker Carlson also said it was a bad idea.

  162. “Shrewd”,”Constrained”? As so many have realized, he’s a pathological liar, and his modus operandi is to create a problem, and then lie that he solved it! This tactic has one and only one objective: to obscure the truth. How can you argue or debate with a liar? Unfortunately we’re living in the world George Orwell described in “1984”, and until Trump is removed from office, we’ll live under the tyranny of his lying.

  163. This “1984” world we are living in did not begin with Trump and is unlikely to end with his demise. This has been the world We have been seeing emerging since the Bay of Tonkin incident, but may go back to “Remember the Maine”. Trump’s tenure has only made us more aware and possibly more sceptical of government and corporate pronouncements.

  164. He’s crazy, like a flaming fox. Don’t fall for his brinksmanship games.

  165. I see a third reason for Trump's threats (followed by reversals). It is a tactic he uses to show his 60 million followers that he is fulfilling his campaign promises to getting elected. Those who follow him blindly, will remember his tough stands, not the fickle reversals....he can then boast how much he has done for the country and why he should be president for a second term...

  166. Trump’s reversal is indicative a lack of knowledge of foreign affairs and of dealing with big and complicated endeavors. He became frightened when events were about to go he knew not where. He never had to deal with anything like that before with any success. Remember when he went bankrupt with the casinos? He was not managing those projects well and they failed in a big way. He kept his business simple and easy to control after that. He sold himself as a big successful businessman but kept his business secret. You can see him using basic trial and error methods without relying on good risk assessments continually as President and he does not achieve consistent results. It tells you that he does not know what he is doing.

  167. @Casual Observer...So, you would have ordered the attack on Iranian facilities in retaliation for destroying a $130 Million drone. After you were advised that 150 deaths would result from your order. Because you are knowledgeable about foreign affairs. And, you are really good at dealing with big and complicated endeavors that showcase you good risk assessments skills. Good to know!

  168. It took some serious moxie to do what Mr. Trump did and it was the right thing to do for himself and America, let’s hope he doesn’t screw it up trying to appease the hawks with cyber warfare and the like, because that is a two edged sword and when Iran strikes back we will be right back into it.

  169. To be clear: Iran was compliant with the nuclear treaty, when Trump went ahead and broke it just because. And although Trump has bee escalating a confrontation, he has the nerve to say that unless Iran bends to his wish, it will see: “Obliteration, like you’ve never seen before”. Why? The Iran nuclear treaty was meant to control the growth of nuclear weapons in the region and was working, but Netanyahu’s and AIPAC want mayhem and destruction which will cause displacement of millions of people. Remember how AIPAC shoehorned and blackmailed Congress into accepting Netanyahu to address the bicameral branches of Congress to denounce former President Obama and the treaty he had taken years to achieve. Do ethical allies do this? Sons and daughters American families will be forced to go and die for no reason and if they come back, Purdue Pharma and Teva Pharma will get them addicted to OxyContin, which, btw, has killed over 800-K Americans, while the Sackler family, the Purdue owners have become billionaires.

  170. After lionizing a venal self-serving fool and his corrupt elect-ees and appointees for 8 years the media has so little credibility, anything the current president does is a huge upgrade. Those disgraceful congressional loons and x officials still roam the earth preaching the drivel that undermined our freedoms, prosperity and equality.

  171. The over-riding element in President Bully's decision to reverse course was its pernicious effect on his re-election chances. That is OK - we sane, reasonable Americans will take a good act or elimination of a bad one any way possible. Here is an idea: Fire Bolton and Pompeo and replace them with people having a modicum of knowledge and judgment . The blow-hard in chief has allowed these warmongers to place him and the country in an untenable place. If one is honestly wishing to avoid another elective catastrophic war in the Middle-east , why pick Bolton to begin with. He of the bravery to send others to die and be maimed for no good purpose. Bolton is a despicable person and architect of the Iraq fiasco. He belongs in jail as a war criminal not where he is now.

  172. Since Trump hates when the press publicizes any sont of pre-empted behavior he is still at his most dangerous. With forces already at sea he is in a position to order a surprise attack, his favorite kind. Iran best not let it's guard down for any lengthy celebration. As I said before we're talking about a lifeless drone here. When the Marine barracks in Lebanon was bombed with over 200 UNARMED lives lost Reagan did nothing. A big difference. Let's not rush into another quagmire over this.

  173. I didn’t vote for President Trump, and I can’t foresee myself doing so in 2020. But I’ll give credit where credit is due. We should all breath a sigh of relief that Trump thwarted John Bolton and Mike Pompeo’s plan to murder an estimated 150 Iranians. The fact that the Times chooses to frame this decision in terms of whether or not it was strategically wise is quite nauseating.

  174. @Max Ross Who put these two psychopath’s in their jobs?!

  175. Yeah, fair enough.

  176. I am glad that President Trump reversed course on bombing Iran and saw that it was not an in-kind response. Bolton and Pompeo are both behaving like psychopaths in relation to Iran and seem oblivious to the fact that Iran has powerful allies who just might jump in if Iran is attacked for shooting down an expendable drone. Nineteenth century gunboat diplomacy won't take us any place good in this day and age. Others in the world will put us in our place and all of us will suffer.

  177. Someone close to trump found season 1, episode 3 of “West Wing,” titled “A Proportionate Response,” and decided Jed Bartlett might be a good role model for a real president. Trump’s recent show of”restraint” was copied directly from this episode. President Bartlett was a quirky, brilliant, funny, empathetic, compassionate patriot. He would indeed make a great role model for a real president. Unfortunately, we don’t have a real president.

  178. @Bluebeliever Agree!! Not only would nightly viewing by Trump of West Wing Episodes show him how a presidency should / could look, even with its fictional flaws- but it would show him what a fundamentally decent president (and person) actually is. But then again, maybe a narcissist can't recognize good in other people.

  179. Depressingly, it’s all coming home. It seems that America needs to fall flat on its face in ways that even Trump supporters understand is harmful to America and harmful to them personally before we can feel assured he won’t be reelected. A very high price to pay, but bad decisions on the part of voters and administrative incompetence have consequences.

  180. Hey Mr. Trump. Add one more thing to your fix and that is this: Stop any tankers hauling Iranian oil and transfer the oil to Navy tankers to the point that the then WTI pricing offsets our total costs related to this mess. Oh, that American drone cost us taxpayers in excess of $100 million so to start you will need to take around 2 million barrels. Finally, you can thank me for presenting this option.

  181. We are fortunate that even though the wrong advice brought him to the brink of war, he caved in to the advice of those who knew better.

  182. OK...I'll bite...the proposed 'abrupt reversal' of President TRUMP's 'attack order' was based on his assessment that the action was not a proportional response. Does this assume that the prior, duly authorized & dutifully executed, 'cyber attack' was both proportional & effective?

  183. “A shrewd act of brinkmanship”? No, just more lurching ahead in chaos from this Republican Administration. America, think carefully and thoughtfully, and choose your next president with the intelligence that is necessary ( yours and hers or his) or this country will be lurching ahead in chaos for a very long time.

  184. First; the title of this article is facetious at best. I doubt if any of our allies or foes have any illusions about Trump's tactics and U.S. power (i.e., its appropriate application) by now. Second; there is no mention of the a reported conversation with Tucker Carlson at Fox about staying out of more foreign wars? Bottom line; the decision making on all fronts in the Trump White House is chaotic without any long-term strategic planning other than the few campaign promises made by Trump to his base. Our allies are just trying to wait out this administration with the hope that it all does not go down the tubes before it happens.

  185. The time has come to stop denigrating well-rounded people of intelligence who see possible repercussions of decisions before making them. These are the people who should be leading our government for the benefit of its people. Education and critical thinking ability, lacking in this administration, are essential in the choice of future leadership in 2020.

  186. Trump’s a yo-yo decision maker. He does not think about his options deeply, others make his decisions for him, he does not have protocols in place with parameters for different scenarios, he has no steadfast standards or otherwise he would not vacate every decision he makes. He is unreliable as a leader because his backbone is a reed in a high breeze. Last, but not least, his morality is always at low ebb.

  187. First it's a good thing Trump reversed his order to strike Iran. What Trump Has not learned is that he has to choose his words well for the World is listening. Unfortunatly Trump Talks like the guy at the end of the Bar. Many years ago when I was in my early 20's a Smart man told me never threaten anyone. Never say I'll sue you just go do it if you are serious. Trump throws threats around like the bully in the school yard. Unfortunatly Trump has too many Hawks that have his ear.