The president is trapped between the Republicans and demands a hawkish response. Democrats warn that he could "hop" into war and Iranian politicians hardy at his own national security staff who are looking forward to the confrontation. There is no obvious result that gives him the clear political gain that is a frequent motivational force behind his foreign policy ventures.
Asked which way he would turn on Thursday, Trump told reporters, "You find out" – without giving a sign he had put in his mind about America's retribution.
It has often been noted in Washington that Trump has been fortunate that he has not been in a sudden serious national security speed so far in his presidency. Now his luck has now gone out ̵
The worsening crisis will submit to its chaos-led administration for an unprecedented test of cohesion. Trump may have to call for allies, he has spent months abusing. His scrapping of truth and an amateur public relations effort to build a case against Iran can undermine his chances of selling potentially dangerous acts to the American people.
Which way will Trump turn?
Normally, good guidance for Trump's future foreign policy efforts is to identify the course that will greatly benefit him politically.
But the current crisis seems to draw two aspects of the President's personal interests in conflict.
Avoiding strangers is a core principle of trumpism. The president does not even want the United States in peace deployments in Allied nations, let alone at war in the Gulf.
But even a "proportional" US military response, such as shooting down an Iranian drone or attacking the base that fired the missile that crashed into the American plane, would probably force the Islamic Republic to make the effort considerably again. Trump would inevitably be drawn deeper into the Middle East.
The president also has his own image and credibility to consider.
If one fails to respond to Iran's escalation, it will add a growing impression that Trump's "fire and rage" rhetoric and strong persona rarely translate into action. He knows that foreign forces such as China, North Korea and Russia look closely. He would hate to look faint at meetings at the upcoming G20 summit in Japan with Presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.
This is a much sharper urge than when Trump fired cross missiles in Syria in 2018 following a chemical weapon attack to enforce a red line that former President Barack Obama released.
Then Trump tasted a quick political payout after outstanding Obama, so fierce and knew there was little risk of retaliation that could threaten the Americans or deepen the crisis. 19659002] None of the light winners are offered with Iran.
"He has made a very difficult decision to make," said Jeh Johnson, a former Obama secretary of Homeland Security, who was also a top Pentagon lawyer on "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."
" His instincts are not foreign engagements, but someone took action against our forces there, and the president has a duty to protect the forces exercised in the Gulf in Strait. "
" He breaks with a tough decision. easier to start one of these matches than to finish one, "Johnson said.
A classic presidential competition
Trump may be forced to agonize over a classic presidential problem for the first time who do not have good results and end up on the president's desk because everyone else has failed to solve it.
Trump often has a deeply idiosyncratic concept of the American national interest – when he takes that into account on a thorny foreign policy issue.
But that's different. American life may well rest on its answer. The nation could slip against a great war with a power far superior to Iraq – which managed to kill American troops for a decade. A prolonged conflict with Iran could liberate geopolitical and domestic forces that could destroy its presidency if it goes wrong. 659002] Trump leads out of the intestines, shows details and often seems to handle crises by saying or doing anything to get to the end of the day. This building crisis requires studies, strategic thinking three, four or five steps forward, and an evaluation of the cascade of consequences that can unfold from any course of action.
National security crimes often extend an administration to its borders and require a unity of purpose and the interregional cohesion that Trump has gone out of its way to undermine.
So far, in those hours since an Iranian missile has brought down the $ 110 million surveillance dragon over the Gulf of Oman, Trump has been – perhaps surprisingly – slowly pulling the trigger.
He has controlled his impulsive instincts in an enduring show of restraint from a man Hillary Clinton said should be kept from nuclear codes when he could be carried by a tweet.
Trump, which other presidents would have done, sought to buy time and political space in front of situational meetings with military and political advisors. He cautiously suggested congressmen to the loop.
He suggested that the incident could have been a work for a "loose" villain who rejected the Washington Consensus that Iran was considering ratcheting its leverage to test him.
"I find it hard to believe it was intentional," Trump said.
It was unclear whether the president spoke after seeing intelligence that suggested sharing in the Iranian command chain or was setting a scenario that could offer him a way out of escalating confrontation with Iran.
A clear problem for Trump is that while he may want to taper off the tensions with Iran, there may be little incentive for Tehran to cooperate.
This is because US sanctions under Trump's maximum press campaign have spoiled the Iranian economy and caused severe deprivation among the population.
Recent events, including queen of the drone, attacks on shipping in Oman Bay and Islamic Republic & # 39; s warning that it will break international boundaries of uranium enrichment seems to be an attempt to impose related costs in the United States.
So, without easing the sanctions – that Washington has no mood to offer or a huge offer from Trump to bring Iran to the table – it can be locked in its current course.
Even then, chief executive Ali Khamenei has said that Trump's decision to withdraw from Obama's nuclear agreement means that Washington can never rely on a dialogue again.
Trump could "hop into war"
Unusual Trump's mood seemed the day after the drone attack to be more in line with those of democrats than the Republican senators who rarely break off the president.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi emerged from an administration briefing of top congressional leaders looking digs. She said she didn't think Trump wanted war, but added: "The high voltage lines are up in the region. We must de-escalate."
Pelosi later went to the White House to meet Trump with the top senate Democratic Chuck Schumer and other congressional leaders of both parties.
"The President may not want to go to war here, but we are concerned that he and the administration can fight into a war," Schumer told reporters after the meeting. 19659002] But the president is already under pressure for a robust military response from the Republicans.
"I would urge strong efforts to stop this behavior before it leads to greater conflicts," South Carolina Republican Sen said. Lindsey Graham, one of Trump's closest friends on Capitol Hill.
"Nothing has its own consequence. If you don't do anything, the Iranians see us so weak," Graham said, calling for strikes against Iranian naval ships in the Hormuz strait.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida tweeted that while the administration did not want war with Iran, "it has also made it clear that it will respond strongly to an attack."
Washington buzzed with speculation on Thursday about State Secretary Mike Pompeo and Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton, who are considered drivers of the tough US Iran policy.
Critics charge the couple who replaced officials who opposed Trump's decision to withdraw from Iran's nuclear agreement to create the crisis through their advice to Trump.
But Brian Hook, the American special envoy for Iran, insisted this week despite Iranian provocations, served the administration's policy and had weakened Iran.
He expressed the impression that parts of the administration are delighted with the inventory after disputing the notion that Iran's deal had at least frozen the issue of an Iranian bomb for a decade.
"Instead of waiting for all these things to happen for 10 years when Iran is stronger, we have pulled it forward," Hook said Wednesday in a Foreign Ministry subcommittee on Wednesday.
"I really believe that everything we see today is inevitable," he said.
This is a problem that is not solved with a tweet and is asking the president that he has never been exposed before.