Iran Hysteria: Liner Notes

My latest column at The Federalist is “Is Iran Hysteria The New Russia Hysteria?.” Busy week!

The basic point is that Pres. Trump, having run as a non-interventionist, is much more inclined to get out of international situations — or try to, anyway — than he is to start a war of choice against Iran (or Venezuela, for that matter). And the hook here for Federalist readers is to ask whether the media blitz on this story is more about trying to Make Trump Scary Again after the Russian collusion story petered out in the Mueller report. [Which is a bit silly, given that there are better angles on that tactic.]

The trick from a writing standpoint is submitting something on the hot story that won’t be overtaken by events as it moves through the editorial process. In this case, I lucked out. The subtext of the column is that this is mostly about national security adviser John Bolton being aggressive and that Trump was not inclined to that approach. Sure enough, after submitting this column, the Washington Post ran a story reporting on Trump’s annoyance with Bolton (though he says he still likes Bolton). I probably should have gone out more on a limb in this regard; after all, there was a similar story about the Trump-Bolton dynamic when Venezuela was on the front pages.

It also appears the administration is declassifying a picture of an Iranian missile on a small boat in the Persian Gulf , presumably to bolster a planned briefing for Congressional leaders. In light of the skepticism already shown by our allies in Europe, this move currently seems aimed more at explaining actions the administration has already taken than at selling a shooting war.

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