President Trump decided at the last minute to not strike back against Iran, at least if one takes his tweet at face value.
….On Monday they shot down an unmanned drone flying in International Waters. We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 21, 2019
Of course, analysts today are trying to figure out why Trump was told at the very last minute how many people could die if he followed through with the counter-attack. (Just a hint, but it’s probably fair to guess that those numbers really were addressed earlier than 10 minutes before the strike would happen, and Trump simply decided in those final minutes that the price was too high.)
One interesting thing to consider is what Chris Wallace said on Fox News. He repeatedly said that he’s wondering whether or not Trump has the stomach to give out orders to kill people. Given some of the rhetoric we’ve seen over the years, it is an odd comment, but actions do speak louder than words.
That is not meant to imply that Trump made a wrong decision, Quite the contrary. Equal response to downing an unmanned drone certainly shouldn’t have a body count. That could easily be construed as escalation. So, Iran has found Trump’s red line – don’t kill any Americans, but unmanned assets are free game. In order for Trump to be able to retaliate against any future similar attacks, our military needs to find unmanned assets in Iran. Otherwise, it will be war via sanctions, provided that Iran doesn’t manage to kill any Americans.
What does this mean on the ground? Yes, we will see more increases in oil prices (currently exacerbated by the refinery fire near Philadelphia). No, we shouldn’t assume that we have dodged getting into yet another war in the Persian Gulf region. Yes, Iran will probably continue to attack vessels and aircraft in the Strait of Hormuz. Yes, the most likely solution to the problem is another problem – yet another forced regime change in the region.
If there is a silver-lining to any of this, it comes from the world of sports. Any soccer fans who were highly annoyed at the prospect of Qatar hosting the 2020 FIFA World Cup in November might get their wish for a change of venue. This stand-off probably will not resolve quickly, and air travel restrictions in the region may increase. No matter what, since the Strait of Hormuz is the center of military action, it’s not wise to think about putting all of those world class athletes so close to the battleground. Maybe Great Britain will get tapped as a back-up, simply because of their large number of ready and able soccer stadiums. If that happens, look for a June or July event, not November.