Urged to Launch an Attack, Trump Listened to the Skeptics Who Said It Would Be a Costly Mistake – The New York Times

General Keane said it was unclear whether the commander who ordered the downing of the drone was operating within his authority or was a rogue figure. But either way, he said, it impressed upon Mr. Trump that he would be risking a dangerous escalation over what was not intended to be an attack by Iran’s top leaders.

“I don’t think that’s what was decisive for the president,” General Keane said, but it contributed to the decision, which he said was mainly driven by the casualty concern. “What was decisive for him was the comparison for him, compared to destroying missile batteries and killing people, of shooting down a drone.”

By this point, time was running out. Mr. Graham, who had pushed for a strike, was on an airplane heading to the West Coast and out of touch. Mr. Trump scrubbed the mission.

The decision made, the military ordered ships and planes in the region to stand down. At the White House, Mr. Trump turned on his television to watch the opening of Mr. Carlson’s 8 p.m. show, where he heard what surely must have sounded like vindication. Onscreen, Mr. Carlson declared that “foreign wars have ended in dismal failure for the United States.”

While no decision had been announced yet, Mr. Carlson praised Mr. Trump for resisting military intervention in Iran. “The same people who lured us into the Iraq quagmire 16 years ago are demanding a new war, this one with Iran,” he said. “The president, to his great credit, appears to be skeptical of this — very skeptical.”

If he kept the television on, though, Mr. Trump would have heard a radically different message from another friend on Fox at 9 p.m. With the news of Mr. Trump’s decision still not public, Sean Hannity declared that Mr. Trump may have “no choice” but to “bomb the hell out of them.”

For one night, at least, that would not be true. But the battle for Mr. Trump’s ear is not over.

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