Secretary of Defense Mike Esper is openly shooting down Donald Trump’s promise to bomb cultural sites in Iran if the conflict in the region continues to escalate.
According to The New York Times, “Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper sought to douse an international outcry on Monday by ruling out military attacks on cultural sites in Iran if the conflict with Tehran escalates further, despite President Trump’s threat to destroy some of the country’s treasured icons.”
The Times reports that Esper even went as far as calling Trump’s desire to strike “cultural sites” in Iran a “war crime.”
More from the report:
Mr. Esper acknowledged that striking cultural sites with no military value would be a war crime, putting him at odds with the president, who insisted such places would be legitimate targets. Mr. Trump’s threats generated condemnation at home and abroad while deeply discomfiting American military leaders who have made a career of upholding the laws of war.
“We will follow the laws of armed conflict,” Mr. Esper said at a news briefing at the Pentagon when asked if cultural sites would be targeted as the president had suggested over the weekend. When a reporter asked if that meant “no” because the laws of war prohibit targeting cultural sites, Mr. Esper agreed. “That’s the laws of armed conflict.”
The furor was a classic controversy of Mr. Trump’s creation, the apparent result of an impulsive threat and his refusal to back down in the face of criticism. When Mr. Trump declared on Saturday that the United States had identified 52 potential targets in Iran if it retaliates for the American drone strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, none of those targets qualified as cultural sites, according to an administration official who asked not to be identified correcting the president.
Trump’s Iran policy is a dumpster fire
Donald Trump’s Iran policy has been a dumpster since the very beginning of his administration, from his decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement to the killing of Qassem Soleimani.
As a result, the region has become more unstable, Iran is again racing to develop a nuclear weapon and the U.S. is increasing its presence in the region by thousands more troops.
Instead of tamping town the rhetoric as America moves closer to war, Trump continues to use his Twitter account to throw gasoline on the fire and make the situation more unstable – even promising to commit what his own Defense Secretary is calling war crimes.
For all of his tough talk, Donald Trump is among the weakest commanders-in-chief this country has ever seen, and it’s putting lives at risk.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.