- - Monday, January 6, 2020

In 1979, I met with President Jimmy Carter in the White House. I wrote a book titled “The Iran Crisis,” which detailed the humiliating taking of American hostages from the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. In 2019, I met with President Donald Trump in the White House and wrote the book “Inside Trump’s White House.” I asked him about the growing crisis with Iran. The circumstances between those 40 years are vastly different and yet in some ways, eerily, the same.

Both crises involve Iranians attacking an American embassy. They both represent attempts to humiliate America. They both are promoted for domestic, political purposes within Iran. They both have come after signals of weakness from America, which has arguably invited further Iranian aggression.

But there the similarities end.

In 1979, the American economy under Democratic President Carter was weak. America was totally energy dependent. People waited in their cars for hours at lines at gas stations. Inflation reached 14 percent.

In 2019, the American economy is the strongest in the world. Six million people have been able to go off of food stamps. Wages for the poorest of Americans are up, unemployment is down. America is energy independent, arguably, for the first time in its history.

Like Mr. Carter, Mr. Trump has shown restraint. Three times he turned the other cheek: First, when the Iranians attacked an American drone; second, when they seized a British tanker and threatened to close the Straits of Hormuz; and third, when they led a Yemeni attack on a Saudi oil refinery, threatening the world’s supply of oil and putting the European economy at risk. 

Critics said that Mr. Trump was too soft, that he should have reacted with more force. But Mr. Trump, in his interviews with me, made it clear that he is not looking for a war. He is, in fact, the first president in 40 years not to have invaded somebody. Grenada, Panama, Bosnia, Iraq, Libya … somebody. 

As a president, Mr. Trump, in spite of a Democratic partisan impeachment, has been flirting with a full term of “peace and prosperity.” It is the elusive gold standard for a presidency. Something that FDR, Eisenhower and Reagan could not claim. It would have been the first in modern history.

After talking with the president, in my book, “Inside Trump’s White House,” I warned my readers that war with Iran was a very real possibility. It could come in the closing months of Donald Trump’s administration. In my interviews, the president made it clear he would opt for peace if he could, but that he would not tolerate the killing of American citizens.

America had shown weakness to Iran during the Obama years. Allowing it to pursue its plans for nuclear weapons. Giving it money, cash on pallets in the night, like an illicit drug deal. So no future president could freeze the funds. And so Iran could finance its terrorist activities in the Middle East.

Everything changed last week. 

When Iranian-led mobs attacked the American embassy in neighboring Iraq, threatening a repeat of the humiliating Iran crisis of 1979, Mr Trump reacted with dispatch. He ordered a strike to take out the notorious Iranian terrorist Qassem Soleimani, who had flown to Iraq to help organize the next moves of the Iranian mob. Soleimani, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans from Damascus to Buenos Aires, was taken out by a drone, only miles from the American embassy.

Paralyzed by their hatred of Mr. Trump, the leftist media joined the Democrats in immediately attacking the decision. They found no cause to complain when President Obama used a drone to kill an American citizen but would side with a terrorist who killed hundreds of innocent Americans over their own president who had been elected by the people of the United States. 

Even Mr. Trump, who had not answered when the Iranians had slapped him in the face three times, had seen enough. He had shown remarkable restraint. But this is not 1979. This is not Jimmy Carter. This is not Benghazi in 2012. This is not Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. This is 2019, Donald Trump is president. America is great again. 

• Doug Wead is the author of “Inside Trump’s White House: The Real Story of His Presidency.” 

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