"When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, they will naturally want to side with the strong horse. When people of the world look upon the confusion and atheism of the West, they see that Islam is the strong horse." — Osama Bin Laden
Osama Bin Laden thought the United States was weak, and this weakness provoked his attack on 9/11 that killed nearly 3,000 Americans.
We know this, thanks to his lieutenant, Khalid Sheik Mohammed. According to The Washington Post, Bin Laden "expected the United States to respond to 9/11 as we had the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut — when, KSM told [interrogator James] Mitchell, the United States 'turned tail and ran.'"
In 2012, President Obama drew his red line in the sands of Syria over the use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians, and then…simply walked away. Like President Reagan in Lebanon, President Obama showed American weakness. Reportedly, the president was attempting to curry favor with the Iranian Mullahs, by not removing their puppet, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
However, just as Bin Laden had said it would, such feebleness prompted only scorn from the Islamist Iranians and other nations. So, the Iranians, and the other regional rogue actors, all began to act badly. U.S. national interests, and millions of civilians in the Middle East, paid the price. The Middle East itself fell apart, and refugees from Middle Eastern wars destabilized Europe.
This is the Middle East that awaits the United States' new president, Donald J. Trump.
Soon after he takes office, President Trump will be tested by Iran. As they have shown for the past year since the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (a.k.a. the Iran Deal) was (supposedly) agreed to, the Iranians are no longer afraid of the U.S.
Will President Trump respond to the next Iranian threat as a strong or weak horse?
The president needs to be the strong horse with Iran. He must understand, and move, to protect our national interests in the Middle East. These interests are:
· The U.S. has an interest in assuring its own physical security from foreign attack, and having other nations respect our territorial integrity, sovereignty, and the lives and property of our citizens.
· The U.S. has an interest in bolstering the security of our allies (i.e., positive reinforcement), and alternatively, in undermining or punishing our opponents (i.e., negative reinforcement).
· The U.S. has a strong economic interest in keeping the oil and natural gas lanes in the Middle East flowing without hindrance to the U.S. and the Western world.
· The U.S. has an interest in balancing power in the region, so as to deter future wars and create a stable region.
· The U.S. has an interest in limiting, if not preventing, the spread of nuclear weapons, especially to rogue nations.
· The U.S. has an interest in enforcing its own word — be it a UN Security Council resolution that it helps to formulate, or its own red lines.
For the past year since the deal, Iran has clearly been working against all of these U.S. interests.
If the Iranians do not cease and desist their bad behavior, they must be punished. This can be done by changing the rules of the "Iran Deal" — by introducing new, unrelated sanctions on human rights, ballistic missiles, or terrorism, and/or by force from the U.S. military.
The Trump administration cannot simply follow the Obama path of "smart diplomacy," followed by concessions. President Obama has wasted and devalued the diplomatic tool with the Iranians; they no longer take it seriously. Contrary to State Department credo, diplomacy is merely one possible tool to achieve our desired end goals. It is not the end goal of every foreign crisis.
Of course, the foreign policy establishment — "the blob" — will say this cannot be done. They will say that the world will not go along with us. Many of these people also said that Donald Trump had, literally, no shot of winning the U.S. Presidency.
The establishment is, once again, wrong. The United States is the most powerful country in the world. We can, and we should, do what is in our national interest, and what is morally right.
And if the Islamist Iranians, with the blood of hundreds if not thousands of Americans on their hands, don’t like it…well, too bad.
Adam Turner is the General Counsel and Legislative Affairs Director for the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET). To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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