Trump has a credibility problem with Iran. Shanahan’s departure makes it worse
President Trump has a credibility problem at a time when his confrontation with Iran is moving toward a dangerous test.
“There is no capital in the bank” in terms of trust with major European and Asian allies, said one former senior defense official. “We’ve managed to isolate ourselves, rather than Iran. This is a strategy-free zone.”
Adding to the sense of vertigo surrounding U.S. defense policy was the withdrawal Tuesday of Patrick Shanahan as Trump’s selection for defense secretary. The nominal reason was a nearly decade-old domestic abuse case involving Shanahan’s son and ex-wife, but the larger issue was Trump’s waffling support of the acting secretary, whom he kept dangling for five months before announcing a lukewarm nomination last month that was never actually submitted to the Senate.
Shanahan’s departure will increase uncertainty at the Pentagon at a moment of significant potential military risk. Allied jitters are likely to expand, too, with Monday’s announcement that the United States is sending 1,000 additional troops to the Persian Gulf.