Legitimate Threat, Or ‘Wag The Dog?’ Past Trump Tweets Create Doubts Over Rationale For Military Strike
While the assassination of a top Iranian military leader has been questioned primarily on process matters (due to President Donald Trump’s unwillingness to brief members of the Gang of Eight or other prominent members of Congress before launching the attack), others are noting that Trump’s previous comments about starting a war with Iran may be more about his own self-preservation than to protect American lives.
Many are recounting on social media tweets that Trump made when President Barack Obama was in office, just prior to his re-election win in 2012. Trump, who was a business magnate at the time making political observations from his Twitter account, predicted on several occasions that Obama would instigate a war with Tehran in order to secure his chances to win a second term.
“In order to get elected, @BarackObama will start a war with Iran,” Trump said in a tweet from November 29, 2011.
In order to get elected, @BarackObama will start a war with Iran.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2011
In that same month, Trump shared a video message to his followers making the same kind of argument.
“Our president will start a war with Iran because he has absolutely no ability to negotiate,” Trump said, per reporting from Business Insider. “He’s weak and he’s ineffective. So the only way he figures that he’s going to get reelected — and as sure as you’re sitting there — is to start a war with Iran.”
Trump on Nov. 16, 2011:
“Our president will start a war with Iran because he has absolutely no ability to negotiate. He's weak and he's ineffective. So the only way he figures that he's going to get reelected — and as sure as you're sitting there — is to start a war with Iran.” pic.twitter.com/usZFLiHnBw
— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) January 3, 2020
In October 2012, just a month out from election day, Trump continued to insist that military action from Obama was going to come about. “Now that Obama’s poll numbers are in tailspin – watch for him to launch a strike in Libya or Iran. He is desperate,” Trump maintained.
Now that Obama’s poll numbers are in tailspin – watch for him to launch a strike in Libya or Iran. He is desperate.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 9, 2012
But no such attack came about, and Obama won re-election.
Many on social media are suggesting Trump is now taking his own criticisms of Obama and using them as his own strategy for re-election, or perhaps as a means to distract away from the impeachment saga that has been making headlines for the better part of the past four months.
Such strategies are described as “wag the dog” actions, wherein a political leader will engage in an activity that will undoubtedly shift attention away from an embarrassing headline elsewhere.