America came to the brink of war with yet another country in the Middle East last week after Iranian guns shot down a U.S. drone. No Americans were killed or even remotely threatened because drones are the remote control toy planes we use to bomb Pakistani funerals from half a world away.

I am old enough to remember a time when drones were expected to revolutionize warfare and espionage alike for precisely this reason — you can do whatever you want with impunity when no lives are at stake, including walk away from what would almost certainly be an imminent invasion if the losses were actual people. Now we are being told that Iran may or may not have fired at some non-American oil tankers as well. (Just like Saddam may or may not have been waiting to blow New York and Washington and Los Angeles and no doubt greater Wichita back to the Stone Age with his vast arsenal circa 2002.) According to a report in The New York Times, the Pentagon recently revised its plan for deploying 120,000 troops to Iran.

Trump's response to all this was very much in character:

Why indeed? You don't have to know how to spell “Strait” to understand that the usual arrangement according to which America's imperial forces are expected to safeguard the prosperity of friends and enemies alike is as unfair as it is untenable. Iran's recent behavior, both verifiable and merely alleged, does not change what we should think of the Islamic Republic — namely that it is Saudi Arabia's problem more than it is ours.

Unfortunately, Trump is a minority in his own administration. His secretary of state, the person who is supposed to be in charge of American diplomacy, is a GOP fratbro who has never heard of a war he didn't think sounded, like, awesome, dude. His national security adviser is perhaps the only living American who still thinks the Iraq War was a great idea. Which is why it is no surprise that Mike Pompeo was practically skipping with glee at the news last week, jetting off to Florida for meetings with Central Command, genuflecting and licking Trump's feet as he begged for just one wee little air strike.

So far Trump is saying no, ostensibly because he does not wish to take the lives of Iranian civilians. This would seem to me an admirable objection if I imagined for a moment he actually believed it. If he cared about the lives of innocent people, he would have made some attempt to put an end to the butchery being undertaken by the Saudis in Yemen long ago.

The real reason Trump opposes fighting Iran is that he knows that it would be a disaster both strategically and electorally. Not only is there no reasonable impetus; there is little to no chance of success in what would almost certainly be a decade-long conflict that would spread to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and beyond.

This is true for a number of reasons. Personnel-wise, the Trump administration was a mess before it even began. It's been half a year since we've even had a secretary of defense. The opposition party in Congress won't authorize the president to spend five rusty pennies on some fencing on our southern border. Why does anyone think Democrats will allow him to prosecute a major war in a region in which the United States has been fighting for each of the 6,470 days this year's college freshmen will have been alive? Try running on that in 2020 when you're the guy who pole-vaulted ahead of the competition last time by arguing against "endless wars."

When it comes to Iran, Trump should trust his own instincts. Negotiate a better nuclear deal than Barack Obama's. Ignore idiotic provocations. Tell our allies and clients abroad to buck up or pay up — or both. Don't feed the birds.