Gen. Dunford one of few officials said to back Trump’s position
The Wall Street Journal is reporting in increasing detail on President Trump’s Thursday decision to not attack Iran, providing reports from aides that described Trump as very reluctant to be dragged into another war.
Trump reportedly told one of his confidants of his inner circle that “these people want to push us into war… it’s so disgusting.” He added that in his view “we don’t need any more wars.”
Signs are that much of the cabinet was pushing for a US attack, but Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, offered a more wary assessment of the outcome of such an attack. This is a surprising revelation since the Pentagon’s brass had been suggested to be hawkish as well.
Trump praised Dunford for calling for caution, calling him a “terrific man and a terrific general.” Trump added that he was happy to see division within his team on the matter, though some within his administration, notably those who didn’t get the war they wanted, are made about the internal schism.
On Thursday morning, when the attack was planned, John Bolton and Mike Pompeo summoned national security officials for a breakfast, and to talk about the US drone being shot down. Officials claimed that the group was “unanimous” in favor of attacking Iran, though others denied that Dunford, who was present, had supported the attack.
Trump is increasingly favoring Gen. Dunford on matters of foreign policy, and that likely put him in a better position to express opposition to the strike. Trump appears to have already been inclined against such a strike, especially if it killed anyone, which would’ve given Dunford the benefit of telling Trump what he wanted to hear.
Dunford’s opposition is also fueling allegations of military lawyers being the backchannel through which President Trump got the formal estimate of 150 killed in the attack, which he says is what made him decide against it.
Some reports claim the military’s lawyers sent the estimate to White House lawyers, who passed it along to Trump. Others are denying this, and accusing White House lawyers of inventing the whole estimate themselves. Trump confirmed being unhappy with the vague estimates he was initially offered on the attack plan, saying we “wanted an accurate count.”
This has fueled a lot of disputes within the administration that the estimate was too high, though Trump dismissed this as largely irrelevant to his decision, saying “anything is a lot when you shoot down an unmanned drone.”