Mainstream outlets, suffering mightily from Trump derangement syndrome, practically rooted for a wider conflict with Iran in the hopes it might damage Trump, then evinced genuine disappointment when Iran backed down after half-heartedly lobbing a few short-range ballistic missiles in the direction of U.S. troops stationed in Iraq, which inflicted no casualties.
But just think what could have been! Three days ago, The Atlantic’s David A. Graham wrote a piece headlined, “It’s 2003 All Over Again,” in which he argues the recent killing of Iranian general Suleimani by U.S. missile strike last week is just like the runup to the 2003 invasion of Iraq under George W. Bush.
“The U.S. stands on the brink of an unpredictable war in the Middle East,” Graham writes, then describes a scenario in which an American president, “untutored in foreign affairs,” is pushed into war by a hawkish vice president and a powerful Cabinet secretary seeking to “follow through on their deep-rooted ideological commitments.” Meanwhile, as civilian leaders “march toward war,” military officers seem unprepared and “startled by the administration’s belligerence.”
See the connection? Graham sure does. “Each new piece of information about President Donald Trump’s decision to assassinate Iranian General Qassem Soleimani produces sobering parallels with the situation 17 years ago.”
What a difference two days make. After a face-saving missile attack on an Iraqi airbase that houses some U.S. troops, which American officials were apparently told about in advance by Iraqi intermediaries, the fight seems to have gone out of Iran. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted Tuesday night that Iran had “concluded proportionate measures” and that it does not “seek escalation”—an admission by Tehran that President Trump had called its bluff and the ayatollahs aren’t willing to risk a broader conflict.