Trump Rejected Calls to Attack Iran, Citing Coronavirus

Feared attacking Iran mid-pandemic would make the US look bad

With US officials blaming recent rocket fire in Iraq on “Iranian proxies,” the national security advisers were pushing hard again to attack Iran. President Trump rejected the proposals, according to officials familiar with the situation.

Trump told officials that he didn’t want to attack Iran in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, believing it would make the US look bad. Iran is one of three nations hardest hit by the virus.

Iran’s struggle with coronavirus is at least in part because US-imposed sanctions are making it hard for them to import medicine and equipment. Having the US attacking them outright over unproven allegations of rocket attacks likely would’ve made them look worse.

While some were presenting this as a “shift” for Trump, in practice he has repeatedly resisted calls for reckless escalation against Iran, objecting to actions that would kill too many people. While he’s wanted sanctions and general hostility, Trump has stopped short of starting any huge wars with Iran.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.