Adding fuel to widespread fears that his administration is preparing to launch another devastating Middle East war, President Donald Trump on Thursday told reporters “you’ll soon find out” whether his administration plans to strike Iran after the downing of an American surveillance drone.
Trump’s comments came in front of the White House, where he greeted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ahead of a meeting on trade.
— ABC News (@ABC) June 20, 2019
Earlier Thursday monring, fired off a vague and threatening tweet just hours after Iran shot down a U.S. drone that it said violated its airspace.
“Iran made a very big mistake!” Trump declared.
Iran made a very big mistake!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 20, 2019
Critics were quick to raise alarm about Trump’s tweet and point out that the president’s hawkish actions towards Iran—including his violation of the nuclear deal last year—are to blame for escalating military tensions.
“Pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal was a very big mistake,” tweeted journalist and New York Times contributor Wajahat Ali. “Escalating tensions when there were diplomatic relations was a very big mistake. War with Iran will be a very big mistake.”
Pulling out of the Iran Nuclear Deal was a very big mistake. Escalating tensions when there were diplomatic relations was a very big mistake. War with Iran will be a very big mistake. https://t.co/X8p2BLaM4b
— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) June 20, 2019
Shortly after U.S. military officials confirmed that Iran shot down an American drone Thursday morning, Navy Captain and CENTCOM spokesman Bill Urban said in a statement that the downing of the American aircraft was an “unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset in international airspace.”
“There is a vital need for immediate U.S.-Iran deescalation. There are no military solutions to the U.S. disputes with Iran—only diplomatic ones.”
Urban did not provide evidence to refute Iran’s claim that the U.S. aircraft violated Iranian airspace.
In a tweet on Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Iran will “take this new aggression to U.N. and show that the U.S. is lying about international waters.”
The US wages #EconomicTerrorism on Iran, has conducted covert action against us & now encroaches on our territory.
We don't seek war, but will zealously defend our skies, land & waters.
We'll take this new aggression to #UN & show that the US is lying about international waters
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) June 20, 2019
Sina Toossi, Research Associate at the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), warned in a statement that the drone incident represents “yet another potential trip mine to all-out war.”
“If it is proven that Iran shot down the U.S. drone over international waters, it is a provocative act that must be condemned by the international community,” Toossi said. “Regardless, there is a vital need for immediate U.S.-Iran deescalation. There are no military solutions to the U.S. disputes with Iran—only diplomatic ones.”
“However,” Toossi added, “rather than pursue sincere diplomacy, President Trump has elected to pile on pressure with no strategic foresight at the behest of uber-hawkish advisors like John Bolton.”
During a press conference on following Trump’s tweet Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said members of Congress from both parties will receive a briefing on the drone incident and warned against “reckless” action.
“I think it’s a dangerous situation,” Pelosi said, adding that she doesn’t think “the president wants to go to war.”
“There is no appetite for going to war in our country,” said Pelosi.
NEW: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responds to escalating tensions with Iran following a US drone being shot down in the region: “I think it’s a dangerous situation… We have to be strong and strategic about how we protect our interests.” https://t.co/WEGrzTaZAY pic.twitter.com/NnLgJcBWqe
— ABC News (@ABC) June 20, 2019
The downing of the U.S. drone comes as the Trump administration is reportedly laying the groundwork for a military attack on Iran without congressional approval.
As Politico reported on Wednesday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.)—who over the weekend called for a “military strike” against Iran—”has spoken to several high-ranking U.S. officials and the president himself about the rising tensions with Iran after the U.S. blamed the Islamic Republic for attacking two oil tankers.”
NIAC’s Toossi said that if Trump truly wants to avoid war with Iran—as he has claimed several times over the past month—”he needs new advisers that would reopen channels of dialogue and enact policies that would bring Trump closer to a deal with Tehran, not war.”