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(CNSNews.com) – Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefed lawmakers behind closed doors Tuesday on the current tensions with Iran, characterizing the deployment of military assets as a deterrent which Shanahan said appears to be working.
“We do not want the situation to escalate,” Shanahan told reporters afterwards. “This is about deterrence, not about war.”
Divide - Administration - Policies - Democrats - Republicans
The partisan divide over the administration’s policies was evident as Democrats and Republicans spoke after the separate House and Senate briefings.
Republicans underlined the “deterrence” aspect, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said President Trump has changed the Iranian regime’s calculus after years of anti-U.S. behavior.
Democrats - Administration - Policies - Sen - Chris
Democrats suggested the administration policies were provocative, with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) speaking of “blind escalation.”
The administration this month sped up the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier task force to the region and sent four B-52 strategic bombers to Qatar, portraying the moves as a warning message to Iran following intelligence pointing to threats to U.S. interests.
Ten - Days - Oil - Tankers - Persian
Over the past ten days, oil tankers were sabotaged near the Persian Gulf, drones were used to attack a key Saudi oil pipeline, and a rocket landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
Speaking after Tuesday’s briefing, Shanahan put a date to the beginning of the episode, saying that on May 3, “we received credible intelligence about threats to our interests in the Middle East and to American forces.”
Intelligence - Attacks
“That intelligence was borne out in attacks” that have occurred, he said.
Shanahan also said the Pentagon’s response, repositioning military assets, has “deterred attacks against American forces.”
Focus - Point - Miscalculation - Situation - Deterrence
“Our biggest focus at this point is to prevent Iranian miscalculation,” he said. “We do not want the situation to escalate. This is about deterrence, not about war.”
Alluding to complaints by lawmakers from both parties that Congress has not been briefed sufficiently, Shanahan pledged to be more communicative.
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