The State Department pays $2 million per month to protect former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his special Iran envoy Brian Hook from Iranian assassins.

To put that in perspective, in the first five months of this year, the State Department spent more money protecting the two men than the entire annual budget for American Citizen Services. The Biden administration has not allowed intelligence about Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps assassination plots against the two men from former national security adviser John Bolton and others to stand in the way of nuclear negotiations and financial relief. Even, that is, as Iran’s supreme leader threatens more assassinations and rebuffs President Joe Biden’s offers.

Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s seeming lack of concern only encourages Iran and normalizes such behavior. Privately, they may blame their predecessor’s drone strike on Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani for sparking Iran’s desire for revenge, but this would be mistaken for two reasons: First, the United States targeted Soleimani because he murdered more than 600 American servicemen and was planning more terrorist attacks. Second, many Iranians resented Soleimani’s terrorism. He was a murderer, not a patriot.

To demand Iran cease its efforts to assassinate U.S. figures was correct but to continue diplomacy as usual and even float lifting sanctions on the group planning such assassinations is pathetic. It only encourages the world’s foremost sponsor of state terror. Diplomacy only works when all parties accept its norms, but the Islamic Republic has shown nothing but disdain for diplomacy since its 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

When rogue regimes eschew the norms of diplomacy, it is essential Washington raise the costs.

After Palestinian terrorists murdered 11 Israeli athletes and coaches and a German policeman at the 1972 Munich Olympics, the Israelis quietly undertook an operation to hunt down and kill many of the terrorists involved. While Israel’s detractors might criticize vengeance, Israel’s actions both tarnished the terrorists’ glorification and also ended their ability to conduct follow-on attacks.

Nor have Israelis been alone in such actions. The CIA hunted senior Al Qaeda leaders in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Ultimately, President Barack Obama approved the operation that killed Osama bin Laden in his Pakistani compound. Of Obama’s national security team, only Biden objected to that operation. He was wrong then and he is wrong now.

Soleimani was not alone in his targeting of Americans; he was simply the most egregious purveyor of that activity. There is nothing in international or U.S. law to prohibit such actions against either senior Revolutionary Guards officers. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, too, could be a legal target given his constitutional role as commander in chief, although from a policy decision, targeting him would be unwise given that he is already an octogenarian at death’s door. Iranian authorities may believe either that Biden does not have it in him to hold terrorists to account or they may calculate that any U.S. action against those with American blood on their hands would enable Iran’s regime to rally Iranians around the flag.

The Iranians were right about Biden . Elections matter, at least in America. But, so long as Washington does not crow triumphantly as Obama did after bin Laden’s death or Trump did after Soleimani’s, then Iran’s ability to distract its public with nationalist opprobrium is limited.

The public may remain under the threat of Iranian terrorism until Biden leaves office, but a new administration could take a new approach, one which would truly convince Iranian leaders and Revolutionary Guard officers that they will pay not only a high price for terrorism but a deeply personal one as well.

Source » washingtonexaminer