Beyond Blaming Iran, Trump and Aides Divided on Next Step

Trump continues to say he wants diplomacy, not war

Given nothing more than a grainy video that doesn’t show much of anything, and a couple of tankers burning at sea, the Trump Administration has proven themselves united in a way rarely seen, declaring Iran wholly and directly to blame.

That’s where the unity appears to end, however. Officials are always keen to blame Iran for anything that might stick, and as for what to do after that, they all seem deeply divided, and their talking points vary wildly.

President Trump was quick to  blame Iran, citing the dubious Centcom video as proof, and declaring that they are “in deep, deep trouble.” Beyond that, however, he reiterated that he wants to negotiate with Iran, and that he’s “in no rush” to actually have the talks. He also continues to say he’s not interested in a war.

That talk of not wanting a war stands in sharp contrast to John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who have been angling for a conflict with Iran for months now, and for whom this is just another chance to talk up a military response to Iranian misdeeds.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan seems to have landed somewhere in the middle, continuing to echo Trump on not wanting war, but in such a way as to suggest that he’s just trying to present this as a reluctant war the US is being forced into.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of