Appearing on MSNBC early Sunday morning, the author of a book on ISIS said it was unlikely that the Pentagon would follow through on an order from Donald Trump to bomb mosques and other cultural sites in Iran if his saber-rattling with the country escalates into a war of attrition.
Speaking with host David Gura, the Daily Beast's Micheal Weiss said the president would face major pushback from advisers and military officials if he pushed to hit what the president has called "cultural" sites in Iran.
Asked about the president's tweet, Weiss began, " I hope to god he didn't mean cultural sites. That would constitute a grave war crime."
"I frankly don't see the Pentagon bombing mosques and cultural institutions," he continued. "The minute they did that any semblance of an argument that this is an attack on the regime and not on the Iranian people would evaporate overnight. That would be catastrophic."
"However, let me put it like this: this is a president who is barely on nodding terms with the English language and I want to parse that tweet very carefully if I can," he continued. "He says he is targeting sites that are important to Iran and the Iranian culture, not necessarily cultural sites. What he might have meant by this are institutions or sites of great national prominence and power and prestige -- things that are important to Iranian nationalism."
"For a long time, we've talked about the nuclear program constituting exactly that in a sense," Weiss added. "So, I'm worried maybe his advisors were telling him, look, we'll go after military installations and things that matter, you know, enormously to the Iranian nation and he just kind of screwed it up and said something that has now gone viral and we're all paying attention to that that the United States is about to embark on international war crimes."
"I frankly don't know what he meant and I'm just speculating at this point. It is highly unlikely that the United States would do something such as go after mosques or nonmilitary targets in Iran," he concluded.