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Top aides reportedly urge Trump to go to war with Iran

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A battle is being waged in the White House between administration officials, members of congress and media allies over whether President Trump should order military action in Iran as tensions between Washington and Tehran intensify.

On Thursday night, Trump reportedly ordered military airstrikes against Iranian radar and missile batteries in retaliation for the downing of a US drone by Iran, then abruptly walked back the decision.

The events shows that US policy towards Iran remains on a knife edge, as hawks favoring conflict with Iran and doves opposed to military action vie for influence.

Read more: Video appears to show Iran missile launcher blasting US drone out of the sky

The hawk faction is reportedly led by National Security adviser John Bolton, who has long urged military action and regime change inside Iran. The New York Times reported Thursday that he is backed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and CIA Director Gina Haspel.

Fox News star Sean Hannity, a friend and supporter of the president, on his show Thursday was hawkish about the prospect of conflict with Iran, saying that Trump would “bomb the hell out of” the country if its leaders did not rapidly seek negotiations.

Trump’s friend, Fox News host Sean Hannity.
Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press

Some of Trump’s closest congressional allies, Republican Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, are also pushing Trump to respond with force, reported Politico.

“The only thing Iran and every other thuggish regime understands is Strength and Pain,” tweeted Senator Graham Thursday.

Trump has so far resisted their calls to take action, only just — stepping back from the brink of military conflict Thursday night.

Read more: Iran claims Trump tipped them off that a military strike was imminent — despite reports suggesting the US ultimately backed down

The president campaigned in 2016 to end US military entanglements overseas, and referred to the pledge in remarks to reporters Thursday.

“Look, I said I want to get out of these endless wars, I campaigned on that, I want to get out,” he said.

The president seemed reluctant to pin the blame on regime leaders in Tehran, remarking: “I imagine someone made a mistake.”

He added that someone “loose and stupid” was likely to be responsible.

Sen. Rand Paul is among those urging the president to avoid conflict.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Among those urging restraint are the Pentagon’s military chiefs, according to the Times, who believe that an airstrike could cause a dangerous escalation of violence in the region placing US forces at risk.

Another close media ally, Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson, has reportedly spoken to the president and urged him not to become entangled in another costly Middle Eastern conflict.

He is backed by libertarian Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, a long term critic of US foreign policy and overseas military engagements.

In his remarks Thursday, Trump hinted at a red line in his dealings with Iran would be the loss of US life.

“We didn’t have a man or woman in the drone. It would have made a big, big difference,” Trump said.

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