How can we trust Trump on Iran?

Our problem now is it’s hard to trust Trump on anything, especially since he has been openly hostile and suspicious of the U.S. intelligence community. Now he believes them?

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President Trump Addresses The Nation After Iranian Attacks In Iraq Target Bases Where U.S. Troops Stationed

President Donald Trump speaks from the White House on Jan. 08, 2020, in Washington, D.C. During his remarks, Trump addressed the Iranian missile attacks that took place last night in Iraq.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — In March, 2003, I wrote a column about the imminent U.S. attack on Iraq. History shows I could not have been more wrong.

I was only as good as my source — who was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

I looked up this piece as President Donald Trump brought us to the brink of a wider conflict after he ordered a drone attack in Iraq killing Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s Quds Force.

In retaliation, Iran sent missiles to air bases in Iraq with U.S. troops on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Trump, in remarks from the White House, said there were no American casualties, “minimal” damage to the military bases and — most important if this holds — he said, “Iran appears to be standing down.”

There is agreement between Democrats and Republicans that Soleimani was an enemy of the U.S. and he has American blood on his hands.

That alone may not justify killing him in Iraq, given how fast things have already escalated. Trump defended his actions by saying Soleimani needed to be taken out right away because, “In recent days, he was planning new attacks on American targets. But we stopped him.”

Trump’s remarks echoed claims made by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said Soleimani was involved in some “imminent” attack. If that is true, it helps explain why Trump risked escalating tensions between Iran and its proxies, Iraq and the U.S.

Richard Goldberg just left the Trump White House as the National Security Council’s director for countering Iran. He’s back in Chicago. We also remember Goldberg as one of ex-Gov. Bruce Rauner’s chiefs-of-staff. An intelligence officer in the Naval Reserves, he said with Trump told the “leading state sponsor of terrorism is actively organizing plots to kill Americans, I expect the commander-in-chief to act on that intelligence and protect Americans and American interests.”

Our problem now is it’s hard to trust Trump on anything, especially since he has been openly hostile and suspicious of the U.S. intelligence community. Now he believes them?

Trump lies, distorts and makes things up all the time. He disdains facts. But what if he was right this time? Like the boy who cried wolf in the Aesop’s Fable, Trump’s lack of credibility at this perilous time makes it reasonable to be skeptical of any of his claims. That’s why it is important for the Trump administration to tell the public more.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., is a wounded Iraq war vet. She lost her legs and partial use of her right arm after a rocket-propelled grenade ripped through the cockpit of her Black Hawk helicopter flying over Iraq on Nov. 12, 2004.

On the Senate floor Wednesday, Duckworth said in a speech, Trump, “in one fell swoop, he somehow managed to villainize the United States and victimize Iran … isolating us from our long-term partner in Iraq and amping up Iran’s influence in a country everyone knows is vital to our security interests throughout the Middle East.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., an Air National Guard lieutenant colonel who has served two missions in Iraq, said Wednesday on “Fox and Friends,” “I think the president — whatever he does — he will have the information. He’ll make the right decision. Hopefully, we are walking back from Iran’s escalation, but we can finish any fight.”

After a breakfast briefing with other reporters, I wrote on March 4, 2003:

”War will start in Iraq with an overwhelming display of force — a “shock and awe” battle strategy — designed to quickly crush Iraqi resistance and yield intelligence about the location of chemical and biological weapons, the nation’s top general said Tuesday. The United States wants “a short conflict,” said Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

He was wrong. No WMD were found and in 2020 we’re still in Iraq. It proved impossible in 2003 to get it right. With Trump at the helm, it’s even harder. Let us pray.

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