President offers calm, Iran seems to be standing down


President Trump signaled Wednesday (January 8th) that he won't carry out military retaliation for the missile strikes Iran launched overnight on bases in Iraq housing U.S. soldiers in which no-one was harmed, which were themselves retaliation by Iran for the U.S. drone strike killing last Friday of top General Qassem Soleimani. But Iran itself signaled that the strikes were the end of their retaliation, and Trump said in remarks yesterday morning that "Iran appears to be standing down," as both sides looked to be pulling back from the edge of potential war.

But Trump said he would add even more sanctions on Iran until it, quote, "changes it behavior," and stated at the start of his remarks that he will never allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. Additionally, after pulling the U.S. out of the 2015 Iran deal in 2018, which after the Soleimani attack Iran said it would also no longer adhere to, Trump called for the nations that were party to it with the U.S. and Iran to work together on a new deal. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, however, suggested there might be more to Iran's response, stating, "Last night they received a slap. These military actions are not sufficient [for revenge]. What is important is that the corrupt presence of America in this region comes to an end."

Members of Congress were briefed yesterday (January 8th) on the situation in Iran and the administration's justification for the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, which it has said was because he was planning imminent attacks on Americans. Response largely fell along party lines, with Republicans satisfied with what they heard and Democrats decidedly not, saying they weren't shown information they believe justified it. But two libertarian Republicans,Senators Mike Lee and Rand Paul, were also not happy, and they weren't quiet about it. Lee called the briefing, quote, "probably the worst briefing I’ve seen, at least on a military issue, in the nine years I’ve served in the United States Senate," and blasted the briefers for suggesting that if Congress debated further military action against Iran it would "embolden" Tehran. Lee and Paul announced they'd support a largely symbolic war powers resolution being advanced by the Democrats to limit Trump's military action against Iran. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will vote today on its own war powers resolution.