Indeed, that is a good reason.
There are also other good reasons. First, it is Congress that is supposed to authorize American wars. Such a potentially lethal strike surely would need, at an absolute minimum, congressional buy-in, and more properly it would need an actual congressional resolution for the use of force. US presidents have sometimes disputed Congress’s authority over military strikes, but congressional approval is how things should work, according to the War Powers Resolution of 1973.
The more hardline elements in Iran could easily unleash their forces or proxies against American troops in both Iraq and Syria or against American commercial targets around the Middle East.
There would have been scant support for strikes against Iran by America’s European allies, who supported the Iran nuclear deal, because the Iranians have been sticking to the terms of the agreement.
Trump largely created the crisis with Iran by pulling out of the nuclear deal last year and imposing tough new sanctions on the Iranians with no real Plan B for what would come next, once the Iranians started pushing back against the sanctions that are crippling their economy.
That said, even though Trump’s war cabinet is now led by two hardliners on Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, to his great credit Trump has now walked back potential strikes that would have significantly escalated the Iran crisis. Trump insisted to CNN on Friday that “nothing was greenlighted,” though he tweeted on Friday morning that “10 minutes before the strike I stopped it.”
It’s not quite John F. Kennedy adeptly managing the Cuban Missile Crisis, but it’s one of the better moments of Trump’s presidency.
This article has been updated to clarify the nature of the War Powers Resolution as well as the day on which Trump tweeted about stopping the strike and insisted to CNN “nothing was greenlighted”.