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Trump bucked national security helper in the planned Iran attack



WASHINGTON – President Trump tapped most of his top national security advisers by giving up retaliatory strikes in Iran on Thursday. In private talks on Friday, Mr. Trump indulged in his verdict and was confident in his decision to stop the attacks while speaking of his administration as if it were removed from the center.

"These people want to push us into a war and it's so disgusting," Mr. Trump told a confidant of his own inner circle of advisors. "We do not need wars anymore."

In these talks, Mr. Trump lamented the cost of a drone shot down by Iran – about $ 130 million before research and development – but said the dollar figure would be less resonant with US voters than the potential victims. According to estimates by the president, up to 1

50 people could have been killed. He told the confidants that each of these Iranians had one family, which would mean that hundreds more would be affected.

"I do not want to kill 150 Iranians," he told reporters Saturday, adding that he has Iranian friends home in New York. "I do not want to kill 150 of anything or anyone unless it's absolutely necessary."

On Saturday, Mr. Trump advocated a new course of action: another round of sanctions against Tehran should be officially announced on Monday, however, he offered no additional detail. The current government sanctions package against Iran has plunged the country's economy into a multi-year crisis and exacerbated tensions in the region. However, the measures must persuade Tehran to open negotiations with Mr Trump, who is seeking an agreement to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions.

While many of Mr. Trump's top advisors advocated a more aggressive set of strike options, Marine supported Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, proposed a cautious comment that had an overwhelming influence on the president.

Mr. Trump himself has publicly described the conflict on Saturday in his own team, which was still painful for some stakeholders. He praised General Dunford for his restraint as he highlighted his earlier disagreements with his Hawkian national security adviser John Bolton, who was the driving force behind the proposed strikes.

Mr. Trump described General Dunford, who, according to official figures, has developed a personal relationship with the president as a "great man and a great general". He expressed Mr Bolton's support for the Iraq war during the reign of President George W. Bush as a big mistake.

"John Bolton is doing a good job, but he generally takes a tough stance," Mr. Trump told reporters in the White House. "The only thing that counts is me."

The President is known to seek a range of opinions, and he did so in times of growing tensions with Iran. Mr. Carlson has spoken out against military intervention in Iran on his prime-time television program.

Trump said he wanted a certain split in his team while making a decision, and said he was proud of how that impacted him.

"Everyone said I was a warmonger, and now they say I'm a dove," Mr. Trump told reporters in the White House. "And me too, if you want to know the truth, I'm a man of common sense."

But members of Mr. Trump's team were not so happy with the president about the internal schism that made the fragile alliance within that According to the administrative officials, it was unclear whether the unit would heal or continue to work within the team, which included Trump's third national security adviser, the second state secretary and the third minister responsible for the Department of Defense

One officer fighting behind the scenes on Saturday said the Pentagon had thwarted the agreed plans in Iran by using return channels to provide imprecise estimates of the victims to Mr. Trump, said the official A Pentagon lawyer sent the estimate to the Legal Department of the White House, who sent it to the Pre Presidents transmitted. One official said the number of 150 victims was born in the White House, not the Pentagon, which routinely carries out its own "collateral damage assessment" on every major military operation. According to two officials, however, the supply of the military did not include such a large number.

President Trump resigned from a military confrontation with Iran. Gerald F. Seib of the WSJ explains what might have contributed to this decision. Photo: Shutterstock

White House and Pentagon spokesmen declined to comment.

"As a senior military advisor to the President, General Dunford gave his military advice to Iran," said Colonel Pat Ryder, a spokesman for General Dunford. "However, I have nothing further to say about what President Trump said, and we are not discussing it for political reasons."

Mr Trump admitted that the estimate came from lawyers, but was eventually given to him by a general. When asked if it was General Dunford, the Pentagon's senior military officer, President Trump refused to speak directly and replied, "I've had a long talk with Dunford, he's a great gentleman."

The attack a US drone was just the latest in a series of provocative actions from Tehran and prompted a meeting of the National Security Team on Thursday morning – a breakfast at the White House – at the request of Mr Bolton

Breakfast is a weekly meeting of Mr Bolton, Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo and Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, on Thursday also included General Dunford, has become an influential voice in the Pentagon, according to official figures, and Mark Esper, whom Mr. Trump has nominated to succeed Mr. Shanahan in the Department of Defense.

A The response to Iran dominated the discussion, and many officials unanimously reached an agreement to recommend military action. According to a person familiar with the plan, this recommendation included strikes against some Iranian targets.

But General Dunford, who canceled an Afghanistan trip scheduled for Saturday as tensions escalated with Iran, seldom gave such specific advice and did not do so at the Thursday breakfast, so many planners familiar with planning. General Dunford usually offers a direct analysis of each option and makes the costs clear without weighing one option over the other.

Military officials have long said that they are not seeking a conflict with Iran. They were concerned about the victims and that any strike option is proportionate, but they were also worried about an Iranian reaction. The presence of the US military in the region has diminished over the years, and nobody wanted to conflict with the military, which operates with limited capabilities, some officials said.

Pompeo supported the strike at breakfast, but also understood more the restraint that others felt from the Department of Defense, the administration, and White House officials. Vice President Mike Pence supported the strikes later this morning at a national security meeting and then supported the president's decision to stop them.

At this National Security Session, the President was presented with the recommended option. Officials said. Victims were discussed and the president agreed to the plan, an official said. "The President acknowledged that sacrifices may be suffered. Point, "the official said.

On Saturday, Mr. Trump said his team had" brought him a great plan, "adding that the accident estimate was inaccurate, making it clear that final approval would be granted later

"They gave me very strange numbers," Mr. Trump said about his national security team. "I wanted an accurate count."

That estimate came later on Thursday: 150 potential victims, or about 40 to 50 on each strike said Mr. Trump on Saturday.

However, one government official denied this estimate saying it was a worst-case scenario for a strike that took place in the middle of the day.The strikes were scheduled for the middle of the night when it was in any location said the official.

That may still have been too much for Mr. Trump. "Everything is a lot if you shoot down an unmanned drone," the President said on Saturday when he left After the estimates of the victims was asked.

Corrections and Improvements
President Trump has announced that he will appoint Mark Esper as head of the Ministry of Defense. In an earlier version of this article he was falsely referred to as Mike Esper (22.06.2013)

. Write to Michael C. Bender at Mike.Bender@wsj.com and Gordon Lubold at Gordon.Lubold @ wsj.com


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