The Biden administration’s approach to dealing with Iran has been marked by a series of delayed responses, ineffective actions, and cosmetic sanctions that have clearly failed to deter the Islamic Republic’s aggressive behavior. This passive stance not only bolsters the Iranian regime but also jeopardizes the safety and security of Americans and their allies. A thorough reassessment of strategy and a commitment to assertive diplomacy would seem necessary to say the least.

When Iranian assets have been targeted, or even when a serious intent to do so was conveyed, Iranian leaders have relented from launching attacks on other countries, including the US and its allies. The most recent example occurred last month when Iran launched a missile strike into Pakistan. Pakistan, maintaining diplomatic relations with Iran, responded swiftly by launching multiple strikes into Iran shortly after the attack — in contrast to the delayed responses often observed from the Biden administration. Pakistan’s retaliatory strikes resulted in casualties; Iran has appeared to reconsider its aggressive stance. Iran adopted a softer tone; its foreign ministry issued statements expressing a commitment to fostering good neighborly relations with Pakistan.

When, during the Trump administration, Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a designated foreign terrorist organization, was killed by a drone strike on January 3, 2020, Iran issued threats against the United States. President Donald Trump responded by cautioning Iran that any harm inflicted on Americans would prompt an even more forceful response. “[T]he United States,” he said, “will hit 52 Iranian sites, some at a very high level and important to Iran and the Iranian culture, very fast and very hard.” Emphasizing the asymmetry in perceived consequences, Trump even emphasized the asymmetry in his proposal: “They’re allowed to kill our people… and we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It doesn’t work that way.” Iran did not attack US assets or kill Americans throughout Trump’s tenure.

In addition, history provides much evidence of the effectiveness of firm action in deterring Iranian aggression. During the Bush administration, shortly after the US invasion of Afghanistan, the Iranian regime, evidently fearing being targeted for its support of terrorist activities, initiated a confidential proposal to the US. Iran’s proposal, communicated through Swiss diplomatic channels, outlined a “grand bargain” that offered full transparency regarding its nuclear program and a cessation of support for terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. In return, Iran sought security assurances from the United States and the normalization of diplomatic relations. The proposal came in response to the credible threat of force and demonstrated Iran’s willingness to negotiate when confronted with strength.

Similarly, Operation Praying Mantis during the Reagan administration dealt a decisive blow to Iran’s maritime capabilities, that led to a cessation of Iran attacking ships. Reagan’s message had been clear: aggression will be met with overwhelming force, and the security of American interests will be fiercely defended.

A fundamental truth about the Middle East — one that differentiates it from Western thinking in the United States or the United Nations – is that the only language respected is that of strength and resolve. As the journalist Thomas Friedman noted: “No one ever said it better than Osama bin Laden: When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they are attracted to the strong horse.” Especially in the Middle East, leaders are looking for who will protect them. Anything less than strength invites aggressive behavior and endangers innocent lives. The Biden administration’s failure to send a strong and unequivocal message to Iran only invites further its aggression and destabilizing the region.

A more assertive stance towards Iran is essential. Responses need to include strengthening and enforcing existing sanctions; imposing restrictions on Iran’s oil exports and imposing penalties on those who engage in trade with the regime. One might also consider targeting Iran’s oil facilities, naval assets, and bases belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Strong action against Iran itself — not its proxies, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis — would also serve as an effective deterrent against future Iranian aggression.

The Biden administration’s passive response to Iranian aggression is imperiling the region, the United States and the Free World. Iran, along with Qatar, have brought all the mayhem to the Middle East. When Iran achieves nuclear weapons capability, as it appears on the verge of doing, just think of what mayhem it will be able to bring then. Stop Iran now.

Source » gatestoneinstitute