President Donald Trump appeared to back down last week when it came to an attack on Iran after an oil tanker was allegedly fired upon and the country shot down a U.S. drone during surveillance.
Republicans and even Trump himself has mocked former President Barack Obama for drawing a "red line" for Syria but being unwilling to act further. In Obama's case, the president saw the country cross the red line and asked Congress to give him a declaration of war. Republicans refused at the time.
Washington Post columnist Max Boot told Trump it's time to either "put up or shut up," in his Sunday commentary.
"This is part of a pattern with Trump, who roars like a tiger but usually acts like a scaredy-cat," Boot wrote. "This is the same president, after all, who has repeatedly threatened to close the border with Mexico or slap it with prohibitive tariffs unless it ended illegal immigration — and never once made good on his threats."
There's a long history of tough talk from the president on Twitter, with little action to back it up.
"What has been on display is not prudence and discretion but indecision and chaos. The message that will go out to enemy capitals is, in fact, that the president is weak. Russian state TV is already mocking Trump for his stand-down with Iran," Boot continued.
He noted that he's not in favor of an Iran war, rather he wants Trump to stop pretending like he's a strong, tough guy, when the reality is he'll cave every time.
"Trump needs to either put up or shut up. But he won't do either. He continues to run his mouth — or, more accurately, his Twitter account — without making good on his threats. This is the worst of all worlds," Boot said.
In 2019, it's conservatives like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John Bolton leading the charge to war. But in a press availability Thursday, Trump appeared to back down from his so-called "tough talk" on Iran, saying that he wasn't sure if shooting down the drone was intentional or an official government decision.
"I would imagine it was a general or somebody that made a mistake in shooting that drone down. Fortunately, that drone was unarmed. There was no man in it and there was no — it was just — it was over international waters, clearly over international waters, but we didn't have a man or woman in the drone. We had nobody in the drone. It would have made a big difference, let me tell you. It would have made a big, big difference," Trump said during the press availability.
When he was given the option to issue a strike on Iran, Trump pulled back when he was ultimately told it would kill 150 people. The Washington Post and The New York Times both had conflicting reports about when the decision was made. One said two hours before, while the other says ten minutes before.
"These lies may seem small, but they are actually quite telling, because they go to the issue of motivation," Boot wrote. "Trump would like the world to believe that he called off the airstrikes because he is a humanitarian and 'not a warmonger.' But the evidence suggests he was really motivated by conversations with the likes of Tucker Carlson, who told him, according to the Times, that the 'hawks' urging retaliation against Iran "did not have the president's best interests at heart … [and] if Mr. Trump got into a war with Iran, he could kiss his chances of re-election goodbye."
Boot went on to say that Trump didn't pull out of the attack because he's some sort of empathetic humanitarian, rather he got cold feet.