Donald Trump spent Friday regaling anyone who would listen (which, in this case, was literally everyone) with the story of what unfolded Thursday evening ahead of planned strikes on radar and missile batteries in Iran.
Between a series of tweets and interviews, the public eventually got what, for this administration, counts as a “consistent” narrative. Basically, Trump was “cocked and loaded” (as he put it), but when he discovered that “approximately” 150 Iranians would be killed in the strikes, he called the operation off because he didn’t feel that was “proportionate” to the downing of an unmanned drone.
That was a rare moment of reflection and restraint from a man who is known for neither.
Trump told Chuck Todd all about it, and, on Saturday, he elaborated further in remarks to reporters before boarding Marine One en route to Camp David.
As usual, the president delivered so many headline-worthy soundbites that it’s difficult to decide what to highlight, but perhaps the most notable bit came when Trump said he was slapping the country with additional sanctions and that, if Iran were to make a deal with him, the country would be made “great again”.
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As you can see, Trump reminds everyone that he’s been extraordinarily successful at creating an “economic mess” for Iran. “They’re going through hell”, he remarked. He even expressed some begrudging respect for the country’s resiliency in the face of the sanctions. “It’s hard to believe you can even put on [more sanctions]”, Trump marveled.
After that, Trump told a series of lies about the nuclear deal, presumably because he understands there’s something patently ridiculous about saying “All I want is no nuclear weapons” and the fact that he, Donald Trump, pulled the US out of an agreement designed to ensure precisely that outcome. Then, the president said this about a prospective deal:
Let’s call it ‘Make Iran Great Again’ – does that make sense? ‘Make Iran Great Again’, it’s ok with me.
Trump is effectively giving Tehran the right to license his signature catchphrase. Maybe Tehran can start selling knockoff MAGA hats to raise money. One can only imagine how incredulous Khamenei must be. Trump’s buffoonery is so spectacular as to be utterly baffling.
He went on to implicitly ask the rest of the world to thank the US for promising to secure safe passage through the Strait of Hormuz, which would be an especially ironic thing to say if any of the false flag theories about the oil tanker attacks are true.
Trump also gave Iran a lot of credit for not murdering 38 people “yesterday”.
That, apparently, counts as a concession in Trump’s mind.
Asked by reporters if John Bolton is a problem (that wasn’t the precise wording, but that was the gist of it), Trump conceded that John is “hawkish”, but reiterated that he hears from “both sides” and that the only opinion that matters in the end is his.
Trump then launched into a lengthy story about all the Iranian friends he has from his days in New York. Apparently, he had them in mind when he decided not to risk killing dozens of people on Friday.
As far as what happens next, he’ll keep you posted.