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Trump's smart call on Iran

In an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," President Donald Trump said he decided a strike that would kill 150 people, because it was "not proportionate" to Iran striking down an unmanned drone.

Posted: Jun 21, 2019 6:40 PM

At the last possible minute President Trump did something smart on Iran Thursday night: He pulled back strikes on three Iranian targets that could have killed as many as 150 people because, he tweeted, it wasn't a "proportionate" response to Iran bringing down an unarmed US drone.

Indeed, that is a good reason.

There are also other good reasons. First, it is Congress that is supposed to authorize American wars. Such a potentially lethal strike surely would need, at an absolute minimum, congressional buy-in, and more properly it would need an actual congressional resolution for the use of force. US presidents have sometimes disputed Congress's authority over military strikes, but congressional approval first is how things should work, according to the congressionally asserted but never presidentially signed War Powers Resolution of 1973.

Second, an escalatory strike of this scale could pose serious risks to Americans in the Middle East. Unlike the Syrian regime against which Trump launched air strikes in 2017 and 2918, Iran has the capacity to launch significant retaliatory operations across the Middle East. Iran and its proxies have major presences in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Iran also has thousands of missiles with ranges of up to 1,500 miles that can hit targets around the region, including Israel, and can reach as far as southeastern Europe.

The more hardline elements in Iran could easily unleash their forces or proxies against American troops in both Iraq and Syria or against American commercial targets around the Middle East.

There was a sneak preview of this potential approach on Wednesday when a rocket landed at the headquarters of American oil giant ExxonMobil in southern Iraq. Although it's not clear who launched the rocket, it is reasonable to assume it was the work of a Shia militia aligned with Iran.

Third, Iran also isn't Syria, where Trump launched strikes in 2017 and 2018 after the Syrian regime allegedly used chemical weapons against its own people. Those strikes enforced a significant international norm against the use of chemical weapons and had considerable support around the world. Indeed, the British and the French both participated in the 2018 strikes.

There would have been scant support for strikes against Iran by America's European allies, who supported the Iran nuclear deal, because the Iranians have been sticking to the terms of the agreement.

Trump largely created the crisis with Iran by pulling out of the nuclear deal last year and imposing tough new sanctions on the Iranians with no real Plan B for what would come next, once the Iranians started pushing back against the sanctions that are crippling their economy.

That said, even though Trump's war cabinet is now led by two hardliners on Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, to his great credit Trump has now walked back potential strikes that what would have significantly escalated the Iran crisis. Trump insisted to CNN today that "nothing was greenlighted," though he tweeted this morning that "10 minutes before the strike I stopped it."

It's not quite John F. Kennedy adeptly managing the Cuban Missile Crisis, but it's one of the better moments of Trump's presidency.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 331863

Reported Deaths: 7494
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22855279
Hinds22625437
Harrison19462326
Rankin14765286
Jackson14233251
Madison10658227
Lee10398178
Jones8713169
Forrest8164157
Lauderdale7528243
Lowndes6761150
Lamar665988
Lafayette6446124
Washington5497139
Bolivar4907134
Pearl River4889149
Oktibbeha476898
Panola4719112
Marshall4648106
Warren4612125
Pontotoc438873
Monroe4243137
Union424379
Neshoba4179180
Lincoln4088115
Hancock402788
Leflore3562125
Pike3511111
Tate348988
Alcorn343174
Sunflower342293
Adams331987
Yazoo330573
Scott330175
Simpson313690
Copiah311467
Itawamba309580
Coahoma308285
Tippah298368
Prentiss292563
Covington280183
Marion278980
Leake277975
Wayne269942
Grenada265688
George259851
Newton256064
Tishomingo235769
Winston235084
Jasper225748
Attala220373
Chickasaw215960
Stone209137
Holmes194974
Clay191554
Tallahatchie181542
Clarke181480
Calhoun177332
Smith175334
Yalobusha169240
Walthall140448
Lawrence137026
Greene134934
Amite131843
Noxubee131135
Perry130838
Montgomery130644
Carroll124531
Webster116732
Jefferson Davis112934
Tunica110827
Benton104425
Claiborne104231
Kemper100329
Humphreys99033
Franklin85923
Quitman83519
Choctaw80919
Wilkinson73232
Jefferson69028
Sharkey51518
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 565510

Reported Deaths: 11468
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson828061584
Mobile44938853
Madison36534532
Tuscaloosa26589465
Shelby26409255
Montgomery25598623
Baldwin23319324
Lee16691179
Calhoun15030332
Morgan14877288
Etowah14563368
Marshall12723235
Houston11302292
Elmore10576217
St. Clair10449251
Limestone10420158
Cullman10198204
Lauderdale9883253
DeKalb9226191
Talladega8705187
Walker7545286
Autauga7388113
Jackson7216117
Blount7147139
Colbert6522142
Coffee5962131
Dale5224117
Russell463942
Chilton4603117
Covington4502125
Franklin439781
Tallapoosa4343156
Escambia414782
Chambers3813124
Dallas3674163
Clarke361562
Marion3354106
Pike323179
Lawrence3176101
Winston289672
Bibb276165
Geneva267383
Marengo257367
Barbour241860
Pickens238862
Butler233571
Hale230578
Fayette223863
Henry203345
Cherokee192347
Randolph192244
Monroe190241
Washington174539
Macon167252
Crenshaw163457
Clay161859
Cleburne158445
Lamar149138
Lowndes143854
Wilcox128431
Bullock125342
Conecuh117730
Coosa115229
Perry109628
Sumter107532
Greene95935
Choctaw63125
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