Former CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanOvernight Defense: Defense bill among Congress's year-end scramble | Iranian scientist's assassination adds hurdles to Biden's plan on nuclear deal | Navy scrapping USS Bonhomme Richard after fire Biden faces new Iran challenges after nuclear scientist killed Former CIA head, Cruz trade jabs over killing of Iranian nuclear scientist: 'You are unworthy to represent the good people of Texas' MORE, a frequent critic of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Trump threatens to veto defense bill over tech liability shield Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump MORE, praised his decision to call off a military strike against Iran amid mounting tensions.

“I’ve been a very tough critic of the Trump administration’s policy towards Iran in terms of pulling out of the Iranian nuclear agreement as well as this policy of economic strangulation,” Brennan said on MSNBC Friday. “But I do applaud Trump’s decision not to carry out what would have been a disproportionate strike that would have led to 150 or so fatalities.” 

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“And that could have had a very dangerous escalatory spiral following it that could have brought that region to greater military conflict. So I do think that Trump recognized that he needed to explain to his critics exactly why he pulled back.” 

Trump Friday morning confirmed that the military was ready to strike Iran after it shot down an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone, but called it off after learning 10 minutes before the strike that 150 Iranians would die. 

“We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone,” Trump tweeted.  

Tensions have skyrocketed with Iran in recent days after the U.S. accused Tehran of shooting down the drone and earlier this week of bombing two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Following the tanker bombings, the Pentagon announced it was sending 1,000 additional troops to the region.

Iran responded by saying it intends to surpass the limits imposed on its nuclear enrichment stockpile by the Obama-era nuclear agreement.

Brennan said he was particularly impressed with Trump’s decision to call off the attack due to the presence of foreign policy hardliners like National Security Adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonPressure grows from GOP for Trump to recognize Biden election win Sunday shows - Virus surge dominates ahead of fraught Thanksgiving holiday Bolton calls on GOP leadership to label Trump's behavior 'inexcusable' MORE and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoSchumer meets with Biden national security picks To promote human rights and democracy, Biden should start with China The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - GOP angst in Georgia; confirmation fight looms MORE.

“And again, I give him credit, and I rarely do that, but I give him credit for being almost the adult in the room because of the war hawks like John Bolton and Mike Pompeo who are pushing towards this confrontation that is not in anyone’s interest, especially the United States,” Brennan said.

Former Defense Secretary William Cohen also praised the decision to scrap the attack, though warned that adversaries may not take future threats of military action seriously.

“Now the notion that within 10 minutes to go, some general would come to the president and say, ‘by the way, it’s going to be 150 people,’ and therefore the president calls it off. It calls into question the decision-making process in the United States, and that is the downside of what the president has done,” he said. 

“The upside is he didn’t take military cation, the downside is that others will now call into question.”