In an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity on Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham said that President Donald Trump was clear in his speech that morning: If Iran wanted to avoid war, they had to do the de-escalating themselves. Praising Trump for being decisive and effective in his messaging, Graham said that if the Iranian government wished to escape a devastating fate, they would do well to follow the president’s commands.
“If there’s the conflict with Iran it will be because they choose the conflict,” Graham said. “The president gave them an out. I want you to do three things, I want you to change your behavior; stop being the largest state sponsor of terrorism, that’s not too much to ask; stand down your missile program because you’re destabilizing the entire Mid East; and you can have a nuclear power program, but you can’t have a pathway to a bomb.
“Those are the three conditions that the president has laid down,” Graham continued. “Iran can meet the conditions if they want to. If they choose to defy President Trump, if they choose to try to get a nuclear weapon, have a nuclear breakout, if they choose to try to kill Americans in the future, they are basically writing their own death warrant. Donald Trump will destroy their economy. He will not invade with land forces but the Ayatollah’s regime will come to a fiery end if they do not meet the conditions set out by President Trump.”
We get the distinct feeling from Tuesday night’s rocket attack that Iranian leadership wants to find a way out of this mess. They had to launch those missiles to show their people at home that they could “stand up” to the Great Satan. It wouldn’t surprise us in the least if the Iranians themselves told the Trump administration, through backchannels, that these rockets attacks were coming. They wanted to put the launches on television, boast to the Iranian public that they weren’t backing down, and claim (absurdly) that they’d killed 80 American troops.
Trump, who is also undoubtedly looking to calm things down, must have figured that cleaning up a few spent missiles and repairing a helicopter or two was an acceptable price to pay for de-escalation. And why not? He made clear with his strike against Soleimani that the U.S. will no longer tolerate Iran’s international reign of terror. Iran’s anemic missile strike on our bases in Iraq was the equivalent of a thoroughly-defeated opponent saying something snarky on their way out the door. Do what you’ve gotta do to save face and begone with you.
If the Iranian leadership has any sense whatsoever, they will use this period of recalculation to figure out a new approach to the U.S. They must surely know now, if they didn’t before, that the regime of Barack Obama is gone. And while Trump’s negotiations with North Korea are on shaky ground, this would be a good time for them to come back to the nuclear table. We’re sure that Trump is ready to listen and hammer out a (much) better deal than the one Obama was able to put together.
Or, they could return to their terrorist ways and meet their final doom. As Graham said, it’s up to them.