President Trump does not want to go to war with Iran. This is how he told his acting secretary of defense, Patrick Shanahan, on Thursday, according to unnamed officials quoted by The New York Times, during a meeting in the Situation Room, the most inaccessible room in the West Wing of the White House and where the most delicate issues are discussed, in which the president has been updated on the most recent events in the region. The Trump movement is a warning to the hawks who direct their teams of Foreign Affairs and National Security, in the midst of an escalation of the confrontation between the two countries, which in recent days has acquired pre-war dyes.
During the meeting, according to the Times, no new information has been provided to the commander-in-chief to defend an even greater hardening of actions against Iran, after US intelligence warned that the Tehran regime had armed small missiles in the Persian Gulf with missiles. The reports sparked fears of an attack on US or allied troops in the region, and caused the displacement to the area of an aircraft carrier, an amphibious assault ship, a Patriot anti-missile battery and bombers. The State Department ordered on Wednesday the evacuation of Iraq from all its non-essential diplomatic personnel, at the risk of an attack by Iran.
The same Thursday, before meeting with the president of Switzerland, Ueli Maurer, a country that has acted in the past as a diplomatic mediator between the US and Iran, President Trump has insisted on his unwillingness to be involved in an armed conflict. "I hope not," he said, asked by journalists if he was going to go to war with Iran. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, has celebrated Trump's lack of "appetite" for an armed confrontation in the Middle East.
In recent days, Washington has gained a sense that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton see a military confrontation with Iran as more likely than they would have moved the president. This led Trump himself to respond via Twitter on Wednesday afternoon. "There is no internal fight," he said. "Different opinions are expressed and I make a simple decision. It is a simple process. All parties, and points of view, are covered. "
The president has shown confidence in the diplomatic channel – "Iran will want to speak soon," he said – that Bolton and Pompeo do not seem to share. Nor does Iran seem to feed, to date, the confidence in a dialogued exit. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamed Javad Zarif himself, during an official trip to Tokyo, said there was "no chance" that eventual negotiations would ease the crisis caused by the "unacceptable" escalation of tensions.