Retired General Blasts Donald Trump for Getting Iran Policy Advice from Fox News

Retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling has accused President Donald Trump of disregarding the advice of top administration officials when it comes to Iran, choosing instead to listen to the opinions of prominent Fox News hosts and hardline GOP politicians.

"The president is listening to Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson, [Senator] Tom Cotton, none of whom are national security experts," Hertling said on CNN's New Day during a panel discussion. "They don't have the expertise," he pointed out.

"Who he's not listening to is the CIA director, the joint chairman of the joint chiefs, the secretary of defense–the acting decretary of defense–the secretary of state and some of the other people who should be providing input in terms of a primary commitment as what the long-term U.S. strategy should be," the retired military officer, who previously served as commanding general of the U.S. Army Europe and the Seventh Army, said.

Donald Trump on Fox News
Donald Trump participates in a debate sponsored by Fox News at the Fox Theatre on March 3, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan Chip Somodevilla/Getty

"The president is listening to the wrong people, and again he's making short-term announcements and decisions on an issue that's a long-term problem," he argued.

Hertling voiced his concerns after Iran's Revolutionary Guard announced on Thursday that it had shot down a U.S. military drone that it accused of encroaching on its airspace. U.S. Central Command said in a statement that the drone had been shot down as reported, but claimed it was flying in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.

"The only way for our enemies to be safe is to respect our sovereignty, national security, and the national interests of the great Iranian nation," Major General Hossein Salami, who leads the Revolutionary Guard, said, according to Iran's Tasnim News Agency.

Although Tehran and Washington have had poor relations for decades, tensions have heightened in recent weeks. The Trump administration has blamed a series of attacks on oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz on Iran, with some GOP lawmakers arguing the U.S. should begin carrying out military strikes in response. Iran denies being behind the attacks and some U.S. allies have expressed skepticism about the Trump administration's accusation.

Iran military parade
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attends a military parade surrounded by officers during a ceremony marking the country's annual army day in Tehran on April 18 AFP/Getty

Trump has taken a hardline stance against Iran since taking office. He officially withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) last May, despite the objections of many in Washington and close U.S. allies. The international treaty–which was signed between Iran, the U.S., the European Union, the U.K., Germany, France, China and Russia–offered sanctions relief and international investment if the Iranians curbed their nuclear program.

Consistent reports from the United Nations nuclear watchdog found that Iran remained in compliance with the agreement. U.S. intelligence officials, who were appointed by Trump, also said earlier this year that the deal had worked to curb Iran's nuclear capabilities. But Tehran warned last month that it would begin stepping back from its commitments under the treaty. This week, the Iranians further announced that they would significantly increase uranium enrichment and surpass the enrichment limit set as a red line by the JCPOA before the end of the month.

In an apparent reference to the drone being shot down, Trump posted to Twitter on Thursday morning: "Iran made a very big mistake!"

Iran made a very big mistake!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 20, 2019

Analysts and some lawmakers have warned that the Trump administration is acting in a similar manner to that of President George W. Bush ahead of the invasion of Iraq. That war, which lasted more than eight years, was justified based on false intelligence that claimed inaccurately that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Democratic 2020 presidential frontrunner Joe Biden criticized the Trump administration's actions toward Iran in a Thursday morning statement. He called the current situation a "self-inflicted disaster."

"Two of America's vital interests in the Middle East are preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and securing a stable energy supply through the Strait of Hormuz. Trump is failing on both counts," Biden said.