Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Joel Rubin criticized President Trump’s address Wednesday following Iran’s missile attack on U.S. troops in Iraq, calling it “a speech full of platitudes” that “gave us no clarity about the pathway off of this conflict.”
In an interview with Fox News, the former Obama administration official argued that Trump’s address was a continuation of U.S. policies that drove Iran to retaliate against the airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani last week.
“To come together and find a way to engage Iran so that we get our goals achieved is going to be harder now as a result of this speech,” explained Rubin. “We need to be arguing about what is the way forward to de-escalate the situation and to advance our interests, and the president didn’t lay out a path.”
Days after the U.S. killed Soleimani, Iran hit back by launching missiles at Iraqi bases housing U.S. and coalition forces. Hours after the strikes, Trump tweeted, “All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well-equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.”
Trump reiterated those statements during his address at the White House.
“I’m pleased to inform you, the American people should be extremely grateful and happy,” Trump said. “No Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime. We suffered no casualties. All of our soldiers are safe and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases.”
He also pointed fingers at the Obama administration.
“Iran’s hostilities substantially increased after the foolish Iran nuclear deal was signed in 2013, and they were given $150 billion, not to mention $1.8 billion in cash,” the president said. “Instead of saying thank you to the United States, they chanted, ‘Death to America.’”
Rubin claimed Trump also missed part of Iran’s message with its latest strike.
“It does appear like there was, at least in this strike, a bit of a give by the Iranians to say, we want a strike, we want to show you what we can do, but we don’t want to create any worse outcomes,” Rubin said. “The president didn’t pick up on that and move in a direction that would lead towards a toning down of the pressure… and that’s very concerning because saving face is a key part of diplomacy.”
Trump additionally called on NATO to be “much more involved in the Middle East process,” while simultaneously calling on the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia and China to “break away from the remnants of the Iran deal, or JCPOA.”
Rubin argued that Trump was sending mixed messages to U.S. allies.
“President Trump is saying two contradictory things at the same time,” Rubin said. “He’s saying that the Iran nuclear deal needs to be completely ended by our allies and yet our allies need to support us in a military operation in the Middle East through NATO. That kind of mixed messaging is what has led us to a position where we’re isolated in our activities towards Iran.”
Listen to the full interview above to hear more from former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Joel Rubin.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.