US president Donald Trump pushed the button for air strikes on Iran last Thursday. He then cancelled 13 minutes before the missiles launched—and that’s according to Trump.
The move came in response to the Iranian military shooting down a £160 million US drone which it claims was in its airspace.
Trump later said his decision to back down was because he had considered the civilian death toll.
The US isn’t known for its record over concern for civilian life. More likely is Trump was encouraged to consider the political and military consequences of such a decision in the light of his re-election campaign.
Both US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton reportedly opposed the climbdown.
“If it was up to him he’d take on the whole world at one time, OK?” said Trump of Bolton.
Despite backing down, Trump was at great pains to demonstrate he is still up for a fight. US military sources announced it had carried out a cyber attack on Iranian armed forces. And last Saturday Trump declared vicious new economic sanctions on Iran would be implemented on Monday.
“Look, you can’t have nuclear weapons. And if you want to talk about it, good. Otherwise you can live in a shattered economy for a long time to come,” he said.
New sanctions will hit ordinary Iranians the hardest. And Trump’s wild veering increases the likelihood he could yet pitch the US, Iran and the whole Middle East into a catastrophic conflagration.