Amid mounting tensions between the U.S. and Iran, President Trump gave a firm warning to the country Sunday via his Twitter account saying that military engagement with the United States would mean “the official end of Iran.”
The President’s threat to Iran is in response to “clear indications” that the country is planning to attack U.S. forces in the region, according to a statement from U.S. officials to ABC News. On May 19, President Trump took to his social media account and made this threat: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”
Due to their hostile indications, President Trump deployed a bomber task force as well as an aircraft carrier strike group to the area last week, with the Pentagon indicating they were also preparing to send a Patriot anti-missile battery to the Middle East. As of Wednesday, May 15, the situation further escalated when the State Department ordered all non-emergency personnel at the U.S. consulate in Erbil, Iraq, as well as those at the U.S embassy in Baghdad to leave the area.
It was also reported last week by The New York Times that the Trump administration was contemplating sending up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East if Iran attacked “American forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons.” Although the President denied the report, he did indicate that if Iran did, in fact, attack U.S. forces or continue working on nuclear weapons that he would “send a hell of a lot more troops than that.”
When a reporter asked the President whether the U.S. and Iran were going to war, Trump replied with an abrupt, “I hope not.” General David Petraeus, the retired four-star general who led troops during the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, said that he truly believes that President Trump does not want to go to war with Iran. “It’s pretty clear that [Trump] doesn’t want to go to war with Iran,” General Petraeus said in an interview. “He’s not after regime change.”
In addition, Petraeus said that he does not see any similarities between the lead up to the 2003 war and the current situation with the U.S. and Iran. The former CIA director also reiterated the words of the Secretary of State of Mike Pompeo, saying that Trump has goals for Iran that are much more targeted. “He’s after what Secretary Pompeo has announced as the objective, which is regime behavior change,” said Petraeus.
The General also said that he agreed with President Trump’s response and decision to send the aircraft carrier strike group and bomber task force to the Middle East last week as well as ordering all non-emergency personnel to leave the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and the U.S. consulate in Erbil, Iraq. “This is both an effort to shore up deterrents, and also to shore up our defenses,” said Petraeus. He continued by saying “I think this is a different situation. It’s a different Iraq. It’s not as hard as it was in those days.”
When asked if he thought Iran would try to negotiate with the U.S. or cave to the maximum pressure campaign, Petraeus expressed his opinions on the matter, “They are going to have to make a decision. Can they try some kind of proxy activities? Can they make life difficult for us? They can, but they’re going to have to be very careful not to overplay their hand and result in some kind of response that is quite punitive. He added, “And I think this is where having President Trump in the White House, frankly, has to give them some degree of pause. Over the previous administration’s eight years, gradually they could get a sense of where the edges are and all the rest of this. I’m not quite so sure that with this White House, that there might not be a fairly substantial response to something that the Iranians might think is just a proxy activity that stays below what they think the threshold is, after which we would respond.”
This is not the first time President Trump has taken to Twitter to express his thoughts to Iranian President Rouhani. In a Tweet dated July 23, 2018, the President wrote: “Never, ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before. We are no longer a country that will stand for your demented words of violence & death. Be cautious!”