I did not sleep Tuesday night.
Like many Americans who have relatives in the military, we went to bed knowing that the fate of our loved ones was in the hands of a president who is not known for exercising patience or diplomacy.
But Wednesday morning, Donald Trump gave us a gift. And we are grateful.
Instead of retaliating with military force against Iran for bombing an American military base in Iraq, Trump chose to implement harsher sanctions designed to further weaken the country’s ability to sustain itself economically.
Trump’s decision to stand down rather than initiate a military strike is perhaps one of the most significant events of his presidency. Regardless of whether it provides only a short-term reprieve, Trump chose to put American lives over his ego.
Regardless of how we feel about Trump as president or as a human being, for that matter, we should be thankful that on an issue this important, he made a wise decision.
When our nation teeters on the brink of war, Americans go into self-preservation mode. Our husbands, wives, children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews are in imminent danger. We need cool heads to prevail in Washington.
My 20-year-old nephew is stationed at a military base that often is among the first to deploy. He recently married and is the father of a 5-week-old girl. I want him to see her grow up. And when she is old enough to understand the danger and uncertainty of her father’s work, I want him there to hold her and reassure her that whatever happens, she is loved.
Military families are used to being on high alert.
When a loved one is at risk, there is no time to worry about how the risk developed. It is unlikely that most military families have spent the last few tumultuous days wracking their brains over whether Trump did the right thing by killing Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
They prefer to leave such things to the politicians and pundits to ponder. What’s most important to these families at this moment is what it means for the person they love. In deployment, the only question that matters is whether that person will return home to them.
For now, these families can breathe a sigh of relief. But they know the reprieve may not last.
Trump’s decision to kill Soleimani has heightened tensions in what has long been the most unstable region of the world. Things will likely get worse before they get better.
With Trump at the helm, there is even more uncertainty than we are used to. He is a volatile president, who says something one day and does something else the next. He chose to stand down against Iran today, but he might decide to rise up tomorrow.
A significant number of Americans have little or no confidence in Trump’s leadership ability, nor are we comfortable with most of the people he has chosen to advise him. We do not trust that they always have America’s best interests at heart or that they know how to keep us safe.
It scares us to death. But our brave troops are not afraid.
They are trained and equipped to handle any conflict that might arise. And they are willing to step up to the challenge whenever the commander in chief calls upon them to do so.
The rest of us are not. Americans are war weary, and we will stand against it at any cost.
We don’t know if Iran will keep its promise to stand down militarily, too. Trump chose to take the word of a nation that historically could never be trusted. Regardless, one thing is clear: Iran isn’t through with America yet. Regardless of what the government decides, other dangerous factions are out there waiting to step in and do what Iranian officials are not.
But tonight the families of those in the armed forces will not worry about that. We will close our eyes and pray for the best as we do every night that our troops are away from home. And we will hope that someone, somewhere hears us.