The President is caught between Republicans calling for a Hawk reaction. Democrats warn that he could "stumble" into the war and Iranian politicians who welcome the confrontation. There is no obvious result that gives him the clear political victory that is a frequent motivation for his foreign policy ventures.
Trump asked the reporters how he would turn on Thursday: "They will find out" – without In Washington it was often noted that Trump was fortunate enough not to suffer a sudden, serious national security emergency in his presidency. Well, his luck is exhausted – though he will not get much sympathy from critics who had long predicted that his harsh policy against Iran would trigger just that scenario.
The worsening crisis will put his chaos-plagued government under unprecedented scrutiny. Trump may need to call allies he has insulted for months. His failure of truth and his amateurish outreach to argue against Iran could undermine his chances of selling potentially dangerous actions to the American people.
Which way will Trump go?
Normally, a good guide to Trump's future foreign policy is to identify the course that will benefit him most politically.
However, the current crisis seems to conflict two aspects of the President's personal interests.
The avoidance of foreign complications is a core principle of Trumpism. The President does not even want the US to be stationed peacefully in allied nations, let alone in the Gulf War.
But even a "proportional" US military response, such as shooting down an Iranian drone or attacking the rocket-fired base that crashed the US aircraft, would probably force the Islamic Republic to to significantly increase the stakes again. Trump would inevitably be drawn deeper into the quicksand of the Middle East.
The president also has to take into account his own image and his own credibility.
If he does not respond to the escalation of Iran, it would lead to a growing sense of Trump's "fire and rage." Rhetoric and strongman persona are rarely translated into action, knowing that foreign powers such as China, North Korea, and Russia He would hate to have a weak head at the upcoming G20 summit in Japan with Presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.
This is a much more severe dilemma than when Trump fires cruise missiles into Syria in 2018 after a chemical weapons attack had to push through a red line drawn by former President Barack Obama.
Then Trump enjoyed a quick political payoff after he'd raised Obama once, looked tough, and knew there was little risk of retaliation, which could endanger the Americans or worsen the crisis.  None of these simple victories are offered to Iran.  "He has a very difficult decision to make," said Jeh Johnson, a former Obama secretary of the Homeland Security Department, who was also a top Pentagon lawyer, on The Situationsraum with Wolf Blitzer. "
" His instinct is not foreign engagement, but someone has taken action against our forces there, and the president is committed to protecting the forces deployed in the Gulf in the street. "
" He wrestles with a difficult decision. It's much easier to start one of those battles than to end one, "Johnson said.
A Classic Presidential Mystery
Trump may be forced, for the first time, to deal with a classic presidential problem – one that does not produce good results and lands on the President's desk because everyone else
Trump often has a deeply idiosyncratic concept of US national interest – if he even considers it on a delicate foreign policy issue.
But that is different The nation could slip into a bigger war with a power far more powerful than the Ira k – who has managed to hold on to the US forces for a decade 659002] Trump executes guts, despises details, and often seems to handle crises by saying or doing what is necessary to end the day to reach. This construction crisis requires studies, strategic thinking in three, four or five steps, and an assessment of the consequences that can arise from any course of action.
National security emergencies often push an administration to its limits and require a unity of purpose and interinstitutional cohesion that Trump has removed from the way to undermine.
So far, in the hours since an Iranian missile shot down the $ 110 million surveillance drone across the Gulf of Oman, Trump has – perhaps surprisingly – slowly pulled the trigger.
He has controlled his impulsive instincts in unusual reserve to a man Hillary Clinton said should be kept away from the nuclear codes, as he could be pressured by a tweet.
Trump, like other presidents, tried to gain time and political space before meeting with military and political advisors in the Situation Room. He deliberately brought the leaders of the congress to the scene.
He suggested that the incident could have been the work of a "loose" rogue general who rejected the Washington consensus that Iran was considering increasing its leverage to test it.
"I find it hard to believe it was intentional," said Trump.
It was unclear whether the President spoke after seeing intelligence agencies suggest a split in the Iranian chain of command, or presented a scenario that could offer him a way out of the escalation. Confrontation with Iran.
A clear problem for Trump is that there may be little incentive for Tehran to co-operate, even if he wants to ease the tensions with Iran.
This is because the United States imposed sanctions on Trump's maximum pressure campaign, strangling the Iranian economy and causing heavy privation to the population. s Warning that it will exceed the international limits of uranium enrichment seems to be an attempt to impose consequential costs on the US.
Without relief from sanctions, Washington is in no mood to offer a significant offer from Trump to bring Iran to the table – it could be anchored in its current course.
Even then, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said that Trump's decision to withdraw from Obama's nuclear deal means that Washington can never again trust in dialogue.
Trump may "plunge into war"
Unusually, Trump's mood on the day after the drone attack seemed more in line with that of the Democrats than with the Republican senators, who rarely detach themselves from the president.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi emerged from a government meeting from above Leaders of the Congress are looking serious. She said she did not believe Trump was going to war, but added, "The high voltage cables are in the area. We must escalate. "
Later, Pelosi went to the White House to meet Trump with the Supreme Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer and other congressional leaders of both parties.
"The president may not intend to go to war here, but we are worried that he and the government might be involved in a war," Schumer told reporters after the meeting. However, the president is already under pressure from a robust Republican military response.
"I would encourage vigorous action to stop this behavior before it leads to major conflicts," said South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, one of Trump's closest friends on Capitol Hill.
"Nothing to do with it has its own consequences – if you do not do it, Iranians will consider us weak," Graham said, calling for strikes against Iranian naval vessels in the Strait of Hormuz.
Republican senator Marco Rubio from Florida tweets The government did not want to go to war with Iran, "but it has also made it clear that it will respond strongly to an attack."
Washington was on Thursday filled with speculation about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Trump's national security adviser John Bolton, who are considered to be the drivers of Iran's harsh Iranian policy.
Critics accuse the couple of officials opposing Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal to accuse Trump of triggering the crisis through their advice.
But Brian Hook, the US Special Envoy for Iran, insisted this week that despite Iranian provocations, government policies worked and weakened Iran.
It gave the impression that parts of the government welcomed the showdown after denying the idea that Iran was working. The deal had at least frozen the issue of an Iranian bomb for a decade.
"Instead of waiting for all these things to happen in 10 years as Iran gets stronger, we pulled that together." I truly believe that everything we see today is inevitable, "he said. This is a problem that can not be solved with a tweet and can not be resolved. "Ask questions to the president he has never faced before.
This story has been updated.