IRAN/MIDDLE EAST/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/WAR: “President Trump toughened his rhetoric toward Iran on Tuesday [12-31-19], saying the country would ‘be held fully responsible’ for the attack by Iraqi demonstrators on the United States Embassy compound in Baghdad, an assault that Mr. Trump said was directed by Tehran…The growing crisis has strained Mr. Trump’s aversion to war with Iran as well as his distaste for Middle East entanglements generally, including in Iraq. Mr. Trump faced pressure from hawkish allies in Washington to confront Iran forcefully, while memories of the deadly attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, loomed over the administration. Many analysts said Iran had thrown the Trump administration on its heels and was forcing a president entering his re-election year into unpalatable decisions about escalation and the risk of wider conflict.”

Michael Crowley and Edward Wong, “Trump Warns Iran as Risk of Wider Armed Conflict Grows,” The New York Times online, December 31, 2019