Early on Sunday, July 22nd, Iranian President Rouhani cautioned President Trump about pursuing hostile policies, saying “America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.” President Trump responded with a tweet, reading [sic]: “To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!”
This exchange comes in the wake of a Trump administration campaign designed to discredit Iran’s leaders. Several sources told reporters at Reuters that Trump would pressure Iran’s leaders through tough sanctions and an information campaign meant to erode their support. A recent statement from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo indicates that this shift is already beginning to take place. In a speech earlier on Sunday evening, Pompeo likened the Iranian regime to the mafia, accusing the clerics that rules the country of enriching themselves and funding terrorism. He said, “To the regime, prosperity, security, and freedom for the Iranian people are acceptable casualties in the march to fulfill the Revolution.”
On Monday, a senior officer in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Commander General Gholam Hossein Gheibparvar, described Trump’s remarks as “psychological warfare.” Trump’s response to President Rouhani has been likened to the tone and approach taken with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un; prior to agreeing to a summit, President Trump taunted and threatened the leader on social media.
When asked if President Trump risked inciting a war with Iran with his tweet, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters on Monday morning, “if anybody is inciting anything, look no further than to Iran.” However, Sanders declined to say if Trump had consulted with his national security team before sending the Tweet.