Updated at 5:45 p.m. ET
Something like this was bound to happen.
The U.S. Navy destroyed an Iranian drone over the Strait of Hormuz after President Donald Trump said it came within “threatening” range and ignored “multiple calls to stand down.”
Trump said the action taken by the USS Boxer, a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, was “defensive.” “This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions against vessels operating in international waters,” Trump said.
The confrontation came amid escalating provocations by the Iranian government, lashing out against the Trump administration’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign. Still, Trump has been reluctant to use force— on a recent occasion pulling back on a strike after Iran shot down an American drone, saying the U.S. response wouldn’t have been proportionate. Today’s action allows the Trump administration to appear tough, but, given the tensions, also risks escalation in an already volatile region.
The Trump administration has coupled its tough talk against Iran with intensified sanctions designed to cripple Iran’s economy and target its proxies. As part of this effort, the Treasury Department sanctioned Thursday a network of front companies and agents that it said were "involved in the procurement of sensitive materials for sanctioned elements of Iran’s nuclear program," as well as two leaders of Iran-backed militias in Iraq. Other aspects of the Iranian economy have also been sanctioned and the Revolutionary Guard Corps has been labeled a terrorist organization. The moves underscored that despite its tough rhetoric, the Trump administration's preferred method of confronting the Iranians remains in the relatively mundane world of sanctions policy.