Yesterday afternoon in the Oval Office, reporters asked Donald Trump about a possible response to Iran shooting down a U.S. drone. "They made a very bad mistake," the president said, echoing an earlier tweet.
Asked how he intended to proceed, Trump added, "You'll find out... You'll find out. You'll find out.... You're going to find out. They made a very big mistake."
According to multiple accounts, the Republican soon after approved a military strike, before backing away soon after.
President Donald Trump approved military strikes on Iranian targets in retaliation for a strike on a U.S. drone but later backed away, The New York Times and The Washington Post reported Thursday night, citing multiple administration officials.
The Times quoted a senior administration official as saying the operation was under way in its early stages -- with planes in the air and ships in position -- when it was called off.
The fact that these details leaked doesn't come as too big of a surprise. The number of people involved in planning and executing this kind of mission is considerable, so it stands to reason that we'd hear about what transpired.
That said, there are still plenty of questions as to what, exactly, prompted the president to back off. It's possible, for example, that Trump decided restraint was the smarter move. It's also possible there were some kind of logistical challenges that forced a change in plans.
The latter is of particular concern, since it leaves open the possibility that the president might yet approve military strikes on Iranian targets again.
What's far clearer is the fact that Trump and his team don't appear to have a coherent policy, per se, and their recklessness has contributed to a highly dangerous and unstable dynamic.