Associate editor and senior national security correspondent
Beirut bureau chief, covering Lebanon, Syria and the wider region
May 17 at 7:36  for a possible war in the United States, President Trump might have been this best friend.
Despite the rattling of senior aides and Trump's own tweets, when the push pushed over the past two years, the president repeatedly established the threat of military use.
If the target is North Korea, where the warnings of "fire and rage" have become little more than replacing "beautiful" letters between Trump and Kim Jong Un, or Venezuela, where the threat of "all options" failed to overcome the status quo, the president has blinked. In Iran, sending a US aircraft and a firefighter's task force, as well as reported plans to expand 120,000 troops, is rapidly followed by Trump's assertion that he only wants to talk to leaders of Iran.
Trump said that his administration's disagreement was messy but the image of dissatisfaction could be beneficial. "At least Iran does not know what to think, which at this point can be a good thing!" he tweeted Friday .
But as he moves deeper into his second half The term used in major foreign policy issues unresolved, the Trump reality has suffered, and his choices have diminished.
"If you make threats and then decide people you will not follow, if you are looking for the reaction and you stop taking the reaction, the options can make a bigger threat or to stop going on that road, "says Jon B. Alterman, director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
"The truth is a difficult thing for a president to maintain," says Alterman.
Iran, who says it does not want war but is ready for it, responds to its own remembrance and bellicose rhetoric.
"With the B Team doing something & @ realDonaldTrump saying something else, it's appa the US & # 39; do not know what to think, & # 39;" The Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted on Friday in response to Trump. Zarif often refers to White House's national security adviser John Bolton as head of "B team," or "Simply the Mustache."
"We in Iran really knew what the millennia was thinking – and about the US, since 1953. At this point, it is certainly a good thing!" Zarif wrote. In 1953, the CIA spent the collapse of an elected leftist government in Tehran, promoting a US-based monarch who was expelled in 1979 by Iran's current clerical leaders.
The administration sees Iran now in severe deterioration of penalties, effectively cutting its oil revenues, and near the collapse of the economy and politics. But Iran has fortified the success of its recent efforts to expand its power across Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. If its own messaging is believed to be, it considers the denial of American influence across the Middle East, as Trump wants to leave and regional powers are looking for more intimate relationships with other world powers, engaged in Russia and China. to carry out military action against us. . . and their disagreement comes from their inability, "Brigade Gen. Hossein Dehghan, a military defender of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, said last week, according to the Iranian Fars News Agency.
Clearly done by Trump has made his campaign promises to cancel international agreements, provoking what he called "Unfair" trade agreements, and settling US relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia. But his desire stopping from good warfare and avoiding new ones often seems contrary to the rudimentary rhetoric that came to him and his assistants – especially Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – and force the same allies and enemies to describe which of Trump's instincts prevail.
That is especially problematic in the case of Iran. The previous administration go sent aircraft and firefighters to the Persian Gulf in response to what it said was intelligence indicating that Iran and its proxies in the region were preparing attacks on US forces and their allies .
that Iran was behind sabotage blowing holes in the hulls of two Saudi tankers and a Norwegian ship in the Persian Gulf on Sunday. But "it's well designed to not justify a violent reaction," said Sami Nader, director of the Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs in Beirut. "The goal is to test American determination to use power."
"They calculate [Trump] is not a long-term warfare," says Nader. "We will see more incidents, and they can spin in the absence."
European alliances, agreeing to the administration's assessment of the expansion of Iran for the purpose of expanding but still from the withdrawal of Trump from Iran's nuclear deal last year, are skeptical of intelligence and worry about the possibility of miscalculation. "I believe the American president does not want to fight, but that's not the problem," said a senior European diplomat that the government was taught by Pompeo this week. "The problem is that the situation can be unstable and unstable is unavoidable."
Republicans legislators complained that the administration did not brief them on its grounds for deployment, while the Democrats suggested that intelligence may be enlarged to justify a attacks on Iran that Bolton has long advocated.
"In our efforts to understand the heightened tension in the Persian Gulf, we should not forget that sixteen years ago, the United States warred in Iraq based on ugly and misrepresented intelligence," Rep. Eliot L. Engel (DN.Y.) in a statement Wednesday. "That should not be allowed to happen again."
In a Thursday interview for a small group of publishers, senior administration officials offered a complicated explanation, saying that their goal was not to start a war but to stop Iran taking action in response to the US's greater pressure on US sanctions.
Trump expressed Bolton's failure, instructing him and other assistants that "we will wage warfare everywhere if this year," said a senior administration official who had heard comments. Trump often told counselors that he did not want to send an additional troop anywhere.
He allowed Bolton, who gave the first White House statement announcing the warships were on their way, in order to lead the threat of Tehran. Only a few days later, Trump told reporters that Iran had "great potential." Like North Korea, he said, Iran's leaders should "call me, sit," to "make a deal."
if the two countries are going to war, Trump says: "I'm not expecting."
As worries about tension increase in Iran stood this month, the president overly denied any light between him and Bolton. Media reports of "clash with respect to my strong Middle East policy" are "Fake News," he tweeted this week. "Different opinions are expressed and I make a final and final decision – this is a very simple process."
Privately, Trump is dismissive of troubled in the Middle East, telling the White House official and informal counselors that nobody came from being
As he repeatedly described it, his purpose was to have a "hard" and "rigid" military do not need to do anything – and use rhetoric to stare at people. In a 70-minute Wednesday meeting with surrogates who often appeared on television to back him, Trump concentrated in China and immigration. He did not mention Iran.
Rep. Peter T. King, a New York Republican and Trump ally, said that there was a plan behind the seeming confusion. "His strategy is to avoid things in Iran and also say he does not want to go to war," King said. Trump said, "A good policeman and an evil policeman," said the president, "he is aggressive in speaking and loves."
with penalties … It can cause them to be more conciliatory. It may not work, but I think people should not interfere with it. We will see for a year. "
Clearly reported from Beirut.