Leading political luminaries contend each captain of the U.S. ship of state must have a doctrine guiding the nation’s foreign policy. President Trump doesn’t have one, they argue, and that’s why he’s gotten crossways with Iran. To the contrary, the president’s strategy for dealing with the Islamic state’s malevolent mullahs is as clear as it is simple: Maximum pressure. Judging from the most recent exchange of hostilities, it appears to be working.
Mr. Trump laid the baseline of his policy toward America’s long-standing adversary with the opening sentence of his White House address to the nation on Wednesday: “As long as I am president, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.” Any questions?
The missile strike that terminated Iran’s top terror leader, Quds Force Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and his companions last Friday at Baghdad’s international airport brought the expected retaliation from Tehran Tuesday night with the firing of 15 Iran-based ballistic missiles at two Iraqi military bases housing American troops. All exploded with minimal damage and no injuries, with four failing to even reach their targets.
Tellingly, Iran’s underwhelming response indicates a gut-wrenching admission on the part of the regime’s leadership that a lethal attack on U.S. interests could result in a quick trip to the same hereafter that their erstwhile epauletted hero just endured.
Mr. Trump, bracketed at the White House podium by Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his top uniformed brass, pressed his argument for killing the terrorist whose “hands were drenched in both American and Iraqi blood.” He pointed out that Iran’s missile force was financed with the billions of dollars handed over by President Obama as an element of his “foolish” 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal.
The president vowed to “immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions until Iran changes its behavior.” He urged support from other signatories of the deal — Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Russia and China: “They must now break away from the remnants of the Iran deal and we must all work together toward making a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place.” Further, he announced he would call on NATO nations to become more involved in the Middle East peace process.
Mr. Trump’s policy, then, is to check the murderous advances of the world’s leading sponsors of terrorism using the businessman’s primary weapon of choice: money. The meteoric spike in Iran’s gross domestic product growth rate following the nuclear deal turned upside down when the president ended U.S. participation in 2018, an indication of success.
As Iran is forced closer to the economic cliff, Tehran dispatches its terror chief to strike at U.S. interests — taking U.S. Navy personnel hostage, shooting down a U.S. drone, and blowing up oil facilities belonging to U.S. ally Saudi Arabia. So Mr. Trump takes him out, resumes backing the mullahs toward the cliff, and urges world powers to join in the pacification of the Middle East.
It’s applause-worthy strategy, right? Wrong, according to Democrats. It’s practically a recipe for World War III.
“The only way out of this crisis is through diplomacy — clear-eyed, hard-nosed diplomacy grounded in a strategy that’s not about one-off decisions and one-upmanship,” Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden told an audience Tuesday.
Mr. Biden, a graduate of the Obama school of “leading from behind,” could use his own lessons in effective diplomacy. He opposed the operation that dispatched Osama bin Laden and earned a scathing critique from former CIA Director Robert Gates: “I think he’s been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”
Peeling away from her impeachment ministrations, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted her concerns that the president’s Iran strategy might lead the nation into war: “Closely monitoring the situation following bombings targeting U.S. troops in Iraq. We must ensure the safety of our servicemembers, including ending needless provocations from the Administration and demanding that Iran cease its violence. America & world cannot afford war.”
Hundreds of American military personnel and thousands of American citizens have already lost their lives in exploding buildings and roadside bombings ordered by Iran’s leadership during the past 40 years. Though the carnage falls far short of a world war, that’s little consolation for its U.S. victims. It’s past time for a new approach to Iran, one applying “maximum pressure.”
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