January 8, 2020

Joe Scarborough pointed out the obvious: It's highly unlikely Trump launched attacks without talking first to his pal Vlad.

"It is interesting you brought up Vladimir Putin because when I said I suspected that the president spoke to a third party, Richard Haas, it would be hard to believe that Donald Trump would launch attacks into Iran without speaking first to Vladimir Putin, considering that he has deferred to the Russian president on Syria, he has deferred to the Russian president on removing troops from that area, he has deferred to the Russian president on Ukraine, he has deferred to the Russian president on most geopolitical questions that impacted the Russians. This would obviously lie at the heart of Vladimir Putin's interests since Iran has long been seen by Putin as a client state of Russia," he said.

"So Jon Meachum, bringing us the Cuban missile crisis I don't think is melodramatic. The stakes may not have been quite as high last night but if things had gone badly last night -- and, again, they still can today as we're all saying -- it could have led to catastrophic consequences."

Meachum pointed out that Russia is now the primary power in the Middle East.

"They are now the only country that talks to Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel, Syria. Putin has basically positioned himself in a unique space diplomatically. Whether we spoke to him or not, it's quite possible we did, I think it's just important to remember no one else has the access to all the parties to tamp down a crisis if indeed that's what he did, and the other point is that in all these crises and the other thing that came to mind to me was also the Gulf War, when something happens -- then it was the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait -- what you want to do is slow down the pace of decision-making, you want to build some time into the loop between one side's action and the other side's reaction," he said.

"And to me the most promising takeaway from the last 24 hours is just that, that a little bit of time seems to have been built into the loop to slow down the action/reaction cycle so you clarify what exactly happened, what was the fog of war as opposed to what actually did. To give the other side a little bit of chance to reassess, to think through. everybody has multiple constituencies here, their own public, other publics. So to me the one promising sign was we slightly turned down the speed of this crisis and that to me has got to be one of the goals to not to allow it to speed up."

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