If this newspaper has credited President Trump with any worthy policy goal, it’s his resolve to keep the United States out of long-entangling elective wars. It’s among the very few campaign promises he’s kept, as opposed to guaranteeing Mexico would pay for a border wall, elimination of spiraling federal deficits or ensuring excellent health care for all Americans. Which is why we hope he fully considers the massive risk he assumes for himself and our nation if he marches us into a quagmire of dueling Islamic religious interests.
Beginning in 2003, this newspaper watched as troops from nearby Fort Hood as well as reservists marched off to an elective war in Iraq based on flawed or at least poorly interpreted intelligence. Some of our armed forces subsequently served deployment after deployment. Mideast experts warned that, in toppling Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and his regime, we risked removing the one significant check on Iran and its Shia-driven quest for regional domination. The United States didn’t listen. In further failing to recognize the religious hatred between the two battling halves of Islam, we ensured bitter consequences in blood and treasure would consume the years.
Saudi Arabia, whose crown prince has recklessly led the kingdom into a disastrous war with its neighbor Yemen and whose rule regularly suppresses women and those of other faiths, and Iran, with which we once had a nuclear agreement encouraging free trade as a way of luring it into the company of civilized nations, are the key Islamic forces now striving for dominance in the Mideast. While the United States should respond to any attacks on its own commerce, citizenry and military personnel, our nation’s leaders must at the same time be wary enough to discern what’s in our national interest.
War with Iran at this juncture is not in the United States’ interest. It serves Saudi interests. We have no mutual defense pact with the Saudi kingdom. Its lack of religious tolerance, not to mention the slaughter of a journalist working under the supposed protection of the United States, demonstrates this kingdom is not worth the life of any U.S. military personnel. Engaging Iran in war also would mean igniting not only violent proxies throughout the Mideast but Chinese and Russian support for Iran. Republicans have long stressed the importance of the United States’ energy independence in avoiding future Mideast conflagration. We now supposedly have that independence — another reason to skirt this invitation to disaster.
We appreciate the president’s anger at Iran’s introducing further instability in the Mideast. Yet his Sunday tweet sets a dubious standard few Republicans would have once tolerated: “Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!” Neither this president nor the armed forces that he oversees and that we expect him to deploy wisely and always safeguard should ever be put under the mercenary, self-serving terms of a royal family — any royal family.