Both Americans and Iranians can sleep a little more peacefully tonight.
In a morning address on Wednesday, Donald Trump condemned Iranian missile attacks on U.S. military bases, but went on to largely de-escalate the dangerous conflict he and his Republican allies abruptly started in the first place.
“The fact that we have this great military equipment, however, does not mean we have to use it,” Trump said in a breathy speech after criticizing Iranian involvement in the region. “We do not want to use it. American strength, both military and economic, is the best deterrence.”
The address comes a day after Iran launched more than a dozen missiles at U.S. military bases in Iraq in response to a drone strike that killed Qasem Suleimani, a top Iranian military commander who at the time of his death was on a diplomatic mission, according to Iraq’s prime minister.
In Texas, where lawmakers like Sen. John Cornyn have enabled and cheered on Trump’s dangerous game of brinksmanship against Iran for years, Republicans continue to insist Trump’s actions have made Americans and the Middle East safer.
“Peace through strength is working,” tweeted Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Houston) in response to Trump’s address, a sentiment shared by other Republicans who put out statements on Wednesday.
Leading up to the Iranian retaliation, Crenshaw and loyal right-wing Trump ally engaged in a nonstop social media campaign to minimize the recklessness of Trump’s foreign policy impulsiveness. But contrary to what he has suggested, U.S. leverage in the region has not improved.
Following Suleimani’s assassination, Iran has vowed to abandon its commitments to the Iran Nuclear Deal, a 2015 deal brokered by President Obama and other world powers that promised to lift economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for ending their pursuit of nuclear weapons; a deal U.S. intelligence officials say was working.
Additionally, Trump has alienated U.S. allies in the region, including Iraqis who have voted to expel U.S. forces from the country following Suleimani’s killing.
“Every American is less safe today than before Trump’s assassination of a major foreign leader,” Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) said on the House floor on Wednesday morning, before the president’s speech.
“This is not a formula for the safety of our families,” Doggett continued. “It is a formula for international anarchy. A quick draw may eliminate the occasional villain, but it comes at the cost of destabilizing the world, disrupting the hope of international law and order.”
Doggett, like other skeptical Democratic lawmakers, continued to pressure the White House for evidence of the “imminent threat” that Trump used to justify the assassination of Suleimani.
Recent polling has shown three-quarters of Americans, including most Republicans, are against a war with Iran. The U.S. military is currently fighting wars in seven different countries, including Afghanistan, where a bombshell Washington Post report recently revealed the 18-year war has been a losing, unwinnable battle.
To safeguard against further frenetic foreign policy making from the Administration, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called for a resolution to force the president to halt any military action against Iran unless Congress authorizes it. A vote is expected Thursday.
Photo: VAHI REZA ALAEE/AFP via Getty Images
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at email@example.com