Amidst the uncertainty of a global pandemic that's cost thousands of lives and millions of jobs in the United States, President Donald Trump announced an order that could accelerate the tensions between the United States and Iran.
Trump tweeted that he ordered the U.S. Navy to destroy Iranian gunboats deemed to be harassing its ships.
Trump posted the tweet at 8:08 in the morning.
I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1587557285
With the country in the throes of a pandemic and subsequent financial crisis, the announcement likely seemed sudden to many of the President's Twitter followers.
But some internet sleuths began digging and think they know what prompted it.
One of the President's favorite shows, Fox and Friends, had discussed Iranian aggression just before Trump announced he'd ordered the Navy to shoot down Iranian boats.
Fox & Friends, which Trump watched this morning, had a lengthy discussion of Iran launching a new military satellite about 90 minutes before Trump posted his tweet threatening to shoot down their [squints at notes] boatspic.twitter.com/bvpiPe0xAr— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar) 1587560584
The segment covered Iran launching its first military satellite into space, before pivoting to its efforts on the seas.
Fox and Friends' cohost Ainsley Earhardt said:
"At the same time Iran is bragging about the Navy's capabilities. Just last week, armed Iranian boats were caught on camera performing dangerous maneuvers around our warships in the Persian Gulf."
The tweet from the President comes months after tensions between the United States and Iran reached a boiling point when Iran conducted a ballistic missile strike against Iraqi military bases housing United States troops. That aggression was in response to aU.S. strike which killed high-ranking Iranian military official Qasem Soleimani.
Trump vaguely claimed that Soleimani was planning an operation that posed an immediate threat to the United States, though the evidence for that is shaky at best. Iran's subsequent strike on Iraqi bases inflicted numerous traumatic brain injuries on American soldiers, which Trump dismissed as unserious.
With tensions between Iran and the United States so high and the United States so vulnerable in the face of the pandemic, people found it inappropriate for Trump to dictate foreign policy based on what he heard on Fox and Friends.
The degree to which the president of the United States' pronouncements, even on matters of war and peace, track what commentators happen to say on his favorite TV network--a network that, how to put this politely, isn't known for sober analysis--should leave everyone unsettled.https://twitter.com/MattGertz/status/1252942127337746432Â â�¦— Nicholas Grossman (@Nicholas Grossman) 1587562330
The Fox and Friends producers are quite possibly the most powerful people in the worldhttps://twitter.com/MattGertz/status/1252942127337746432Â â�¦— Josh Schwerin (@Josh Schwerin) 1587565953
Will always be the weirdest thing to me. Just live tweeting tv and either making rash decisions or lying about making rash decisions. Because he's saw something on tv.....https://twitter.com/MattGertz/status/1252942127337746432Â â�¦— Keith Wynne (@Keith Wynne) 1587560402
Remember how we almost went to war with Iran a few days into 2020 as if that was our biggest concern with the new year? Good thing that didn't happen... probably best to keep it that way.https://twitter.com/MattGertz/status/1252942127337746432Â â�¦— Andy (@Andy) 1587562750
Just a reminder that Trump gets his "intelligence" briefings from Fox News. Wag the Doghttps://twitter.com/MattGertz/status/1252942127337746432Â â�¦— Jonathan (@Jonathan) 1587565932
Some think that Trump's latest war threat—along with a suspension on all immigration into the United States—is an attempt to enthuse his base in a distraction from the faltering economy.
If anyone hasn't figured it out yet, Trump reverts to immigration crackdowns and new war threats when he needs a distraction. Whipping up fear of others. That's why any progressive pushback to him will fail if it isn't anti-imperial,anti-militarist, pro-international solidarity.— Elizabeth Beavers (@Elizabeth Beavers) 1587562720
This is a bluff. The Pentagon has received no new instructions. Trump's threatened Iran many times on Twitter before now. Nothing will come of this. It's like the immigration declaration from yesterday: he's playing his Greatest Hits to keep himself in frame amid COVID-19— Gregory Brew (@Gregory Brew) 1587568098
Trump is getting desperate. The immigration suspension thing fizzled out fast. Next best thing is to start a war with Iran. Anything to distract us from his snowballing failure of handling the virus.— Melvin Tercan (@Melvin Tercan) 1587564874
A stable genius, indeed.
For a deeper look into the chaos of the Trump administration, check out A Very Stable Genius, available here.