Trump gives “conventional wisdom” the boot

In the wake of the news that President Trump had authorized a military strike to kill Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Iranian Quds Force, I had high hopes that a new American strategy would emerge and perhaps it might, but… President Trump’s thin-skinned outbursts will assure the every step of the way for U.S. diplomats, military commanders and political supporters ends up mired in endless, Trump-inflicted controversies, that were completely avoidable.

I spent the weekend tweeting support for President Trump’s decision to authorize the military strike, but just like with his digging in insisting his call with President Zelensky of Ukraine was a “perfect call,” Trump on Saturday tweeted:

The media leaped on attacking Trump’s mention of Iranian cultural targets as threatening to commit war crimes and it descended into an all-out spin attack against Trump from Dems, mainstream media, and even Iranian officials, playing for international sympathy and support.

All of this could have been avoided if Trump had been more careful about the words he speaks… and tweets.

Instead, on Sunday Trump went on a diatribe – doubling down on his threat to target cultural sites in Iran.  He even went a step further and threatened to impose heavy sanctions on Iraq, if they kick the U.S military out of Iraq.

It sometimes seems like Trump believes his only adversary is the mainstream media in America.  I believe it stems from his anger over the media turning on him in 2016, after months of giving him endless free media to wreak havoc on the GOP primary.  The media turning on him seems to have enraged him to the point that getting even with them is the thing that drives him more than any of his presidential duties and responsibilities.

Trump could have just walked back that Iranian culture comment and selected a less inflammatory choice of words.  Or really he could have just said, “We will follow the law.”

Instead, he chose to lash out.

The mainstream media and Dem hypocrisy will aid Trump, of course, and most Republicans will stick with him too, but his fragile ego over criticism and unwillingness to ever admit to a mistake will assure every step of the way will be much harder, because of his doubling down on a poor choice of words.

For America’s sake, a new approach to dealing with Iranian terror is welcome and long overdue.  Stepping away from the carved in stone “conventional wisdom” also seemed like a breath of fresh air, because for decades, “fear of all-out war with Iran” or “igniting a larger regional war” held American foreign policy thinkers trapped into accepting a self-imposed helplessness.  Trump’s saying no more to taking Iranian aggression as our only option, has created an opportunity to finally check Iran’s reign of terror.  Whether Trump can curb his most self-destructive impulses to follow through and capitalize on this opportunity remains to be seen.   Even if he fails, at least, he threw a wrench into buying into decades of fear-mongering masquerading as sacred “conventional wisdom.”

Too often foreign policy and military strategists become trapped by fear-induced “catastrophic thinking,” that they begin to believe adversaries are omnipotent or any forceful action might precipitate a crisis that propels us into a nightmare scenario that we can’t control.  Of course, catastrophic outcomes aren’t impossible, but neither are they inevitable.  The death toll and carnage from decades of unchecked Iranian terrorist activities has been a very heavy price to pay, all because “conventional wisdom” fearfully warned us we are powerless to do anything forceful to stop it.

We should not let fear control our destiny.

 

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Filed under Foreign Policy, General Interest, Politics, Terrorism

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