President Donald Trump addressed the nation Wednesday hours after Iran’s missile strike, promising “punishing economic sanctions” but adding that the nation “appears to be standing down.”
Trump said that the American people should be “grateful and happy” that no soldiers were killed in Iran’s strikes fired at two Iraqi bases housing U.S. soldiers Tuesday night.
He also spent some minutes praising his and his administration’s killing of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, a man who he said has American blood on his hands and should have been taken out “long ago.”
He urged American allies including German and the U.K. to join the U.S. in pulling out of the Iranian nuclear deal to forge a new pact.
In classic form, Trump placed the responsibility for Tuesday’s missile attack squarely on the shoulders of former President Barack Obama, saying that he was responsible for giving Iran the funds they used to purchase the weapons used against the U.S. In reality, the money was Iran’s that was unfrozen during negotiations for the 2015 nuclear deal.
Trump made his address after a half-hour delay as aides came in and out, at one point replacing the statement on the podium.
Some in the administration suspect that Iran purposefully aimed the weapons at areas largely devoid of Americans during the attack.
The tension reached a breaking point after Trump green-lit the missile strike that killed Soleimani late last week, garnering promises of revenge from Iranian officials.
The Trump administration, specifically Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said that the strike was ordered in response to an “imminent threat” to American lives in the region. Since then, he has declined to provide any meaningful details about the nature of the plot and has shifted the characterization of the attack, painting it as retribution for past violence against Americans instead of a preemptive strike.
Per the Washington Post, Trump argued to aides that the strike would be politically popular, and that Iran wouldn’t “do anything too stupid” in response.
Many European allies to the U.S. have responded to the strike with apprehension, and the Iraqi parliament voted to boot American troops from the country in an attempt to keep the country from becoming a battleground. Despite a mistaken letter to the contrary, the U.S. has no current plans to leave.