In 1980, a 34-year-old Donald Trump said the US should invade Iran in response to the hostage crisis
- In 1980, in the midst of the Iranian hostage crisis, Donald Trump in an interview said the US should invade Iran.
- "I absolutely feel that, yes...I think right now we'd be an oil-rich nation, and I believe that we should have done it, and I'm very disappointed that we didn't do it," Trump said at the time.
- This interview in many ways foreshadowed the tone of Trump's future presidential campaign and general stance toward Iran as commander-in-chief.
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In 1980, as 52 hostages were being held by Iranian students at the US Embassy in Tehran, a 34-year-old Donald Trump advocated for a US invasion of Iran.
In an October 1980 interview with gossip columnist Rona Barrett, uncovered on Tuesday by Brookings Institution amid an escalating crisis with Iran, Trump said the US "should really be a country that gets the respect of other countries."
"The Iranian situation is a case in point," he ad That they hold our hostages is just absolutely, and totally ridiculous. That this country sits back and allows a country such as Iran to hold our hostages, to my way of thinking, is a horror, and I don't think they'd do it with other countries. I honestly don't think they'd do it with other countries."
Barrett replied: "Obviously you're advocating that we should have gone in there with troops, et cetera, and brought our boys out like Vietnam."
To which Trump said: "I absolutely feel that, yes. I don't think there's any question, and there is no question in my mind. I think right now we'd be an oil-rich nation, and I believe that we should have done it, and I'm very disappointed that we didn't do it, and I don't think anybody would have held us in abeyance."
According to historians Brendan Simms and Charlie Laderman, as cited by Brookings, this was Trump's first known comment on US foreign policy.
The Iranian hostage crisis began in November 1979 amid the Islamic revolution that saw Iran transition from being a pro-Western puppet to an oppressive, theocratic state and adversary of the US. Initially, 66 American hostages were taken, but that number dwindled t0 52 by July 1980 as hostages were released for various reasons. The crisis lasted for 444 days, ending on January, 20, 1981, the same day Ronald Reagan was inaugurated.
Though the US did not launch a full-scale invasion over the crisis, it did launch a disastrous military operation in April 1980 meant to rescue the hostages that failed miserably and resulted in deaths of eight US service members. Former President Jimmy Carter's handling of the crisis is often cited as one of the primary reasons he did not win reelection.
The 1980 interview in many ways foreshadowed the tone of Trump's future presidential campaign and general stance toward Iran as commander-in-chief.
While running for president in 2016, Trump repeatedly said the US no longer had the world's respect, contending that he would bring it back. Since he entered the White House, however, polls have repeatedly suggested that Trump has eroded America's global credibility.
On January 3, Trump ordered a drone strike that killed Iran's most important military leader, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, in Baghdad. The US considered Soleimani a terrorist, and he'd been linked with the deaths of hundreds of US service members. But questions have still been raised by many in Washington regarding the proportionality of the strike, and whether it was worth the unfolding consequences.
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