Just before midnight, something got President Trump agitated and he hurled this tweet out into the ether:
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2018
So this is where we’re at. The president of the United States threatens to annihilate a country he doesn’t like and…
…it’s mostly treated like playground bluster from a ten-year-old. Nearly everyone seems to be acting like this is just a stupid joke to make fun of, as if it came from a parody of a James Bond movie or something.
I’m going to bed. Someone DM me if Trump starts a war with Iran.
— Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) July 23, 2018
Loosely translated, “Manafort’s trial starts this week.” https://t.co/4XpIjzRUmw
— Orin Kerr (@OrinKerr) July 23, 2018
— Reza H. Akbari (@rezahakbari) July 23, 2018
Don’t worry. This is just step A of Trump’s standard nonproliferation strategy
1. Scary sounding tweets threatening nuclear war
2. Agree to summit with no plan whatsoever & then declare victory
3 Get taken to the cleaners in follow on negotiations https://t.co/8ByRTpi3gk
— Ilan Goldenberg (@ilangoldenberg) July 23, 2018
Etc. By Monday morning Sarah Sanders will have invented some absurd interpretation of what Trump meant and everyone will shrug and pretend to accept it. Trump himself, of course, will refuse to explain anything, claiming that he doesn’t want to give away his game plan. The State Department will issue some kind of tough-but-not-really statement that will explain nothing. And the rest of the Republican Party—aside from the usual lunatic fringe cheering this on—will slink away to their offices, desperately hoping that no one will ask them for comment.
And then we’ll move on. This is how seriously people take the United States of America these days. This is what our country has come to.