Commentary on Political Economy

Thursday 8 February 2024

 

Time to Strike Back at Iran

By

Mike Pence

and

Mike Pompeo

Feb. 8, 2024 4:48 pm ET

image
President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the White House in Washington, Feb. 6. Photo: evelyn hockstein/Reuters

Escalating Iranian aggression cost the lives of three U.S. soldiers in Jordan. These intolerable acts of violence by the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism can no longer go unpunished. The U.S. must respond with an immediate and unequivocal show of force that will begin to restore the deterrence that has decayed not only in the Middle East but around the world.

Over the past three years, President Biden’s diplomats have repeatedly made overtures and concessions to Iran, which has only emboldened the regime’s aggressive behavior. The Biden administration rolled back the Trump administration’s maximum-pressure strategy, agreed to a $6 billion ransom payment for five American hostages, allowed Iran to export more oil to China than ever, and removed the Houthis’ terrorist designation. Worse, the Biden administration has continued trying to revive the Iran nuclear deal, which would put Tehran back on the fast track to obtaining nuclear weapons.

The result of this appeasement is war, beginning Oct. 7 with Hamas’s atrocities against Israel. In the four months since, the Biden administration has continued to resort to appeasement by declining to respond forcefully to Iran’s escalation and attacks.

The mullahs have unceremoniously snapped every olive branch Mr. Biden and his diplomats extended. It is past time to accept that this approach has utterly failed and cost American lives. To keep our soldiers and our nation safe, the Biden administration must adopt a more robust stance toward Iran.

The mullahs understand only strength. In addition to canceling the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Trump administration launched a campaign of maximum pressure that included the enforcement of crippling sanctions on Iran. We didn’t hesitate to take decisive action to stop Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani when he threatened American lives. By 2020, the Iranian regime was more isolated than ever. Both its capacity and its will to plunge the region into chaos were at an all-time low.

Only by returning to maximum pressure can the U.S. restore stability to the region and adequately protect the lives of American service members and our allies. We encourage the Biden administration to revoke the $10 billion sanctions waiver it reissued in November. The regime in Tehran uses these funds to finance terror, death and suffering across the Mideast. As the leader of the free world, the president must also call on international banks to seize the funds of all Iranian proxies operating in the region.

No one wants war; every decent person despises it. This is why we in the Trump administration built a model of deterrence that successfully kept America’s adversaries from engaging in aggression. That model of deterrence has been allowed to decay in favor of appeasement and, as a result, the costs necessary to resurrect it have risen, not only in the Middle East, but around the world.

Our first step should be to respond to Iran’s deadly attacks with devastating strikes: not only to end Tehran’s escalation and keep American soldiers safe, but to begin re-establishing the model of deterrence that keeps war at bay. The U.S. military must destroy high-value Iranian targets, including Tehran’s nuclear program, navy and oil infrastructure. Telegraphed strikes on empty warehouses achieve nothing. Appeasement has never worked a single time in history, and it won’t work now.

The safety and security of the nation and its citizens must always remain paramount. Those who volunteer to defend our freedoms shouldn’t be left to fend for themselves. Those who make the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country deserve justice. And those who dare to threaten America’s interests deserve a reminder that they’ll regret it.

Mr. Pence served as vice president of the United States, 2017-21. Mr. Pompeo served as secretary of state, 2018-21.

Wonder Land: Iran, Russia and China know that both Joe Biden and Donald Trump are weak adversaries, not least because they have failed to raise U.S. defense capacity to the level of an unmistakable deterrent. Images: AP/Shutterstock Composite: Mark Kelly

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Appeared in the February 9, 2024, print edition as 'It’s Time To Strike Back at Iran'.

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