A better approach to a worsening Iran situation

Armstrong Williams | 7/3/2019, 10:51 a.m.

President Trump’s freewheeling style is one of the main reasons that Americans rejected the conventional candidates and instead elected him to serve as president of the United States. While he is undeniably entertaining and possesses personal magnetism that helped make him a business tycoon and television star, when it comes to his leadership concerning Iran the stakes are too high for President Trump to act as if he is performing in a reality TV show.

Iran is the world’s largest state-sponsor of terrorism. The Islamic Republic’s dangerous tentacles reach worldwide where it provides support to violent terrorist groups. The Iranian modus operandi is to sow chaos across the globe as part of its hegemonic aspirations. The unelected mullahs who control Iran are power hungry, fanatical in their devotion to a radical form of Islam and have demonstrated through their deception a deep-seated desire to develop nuclear weapons. To prevent Iran from gaining more power, the United States needs a solid, well thought out plan grounded in strategy and stability.

Make no mistake about it; Iran is one of America’s most serious national security threats. We simply cannot afford to play games or act as if Iran’s leaders are characters on television. Given the stakes, now is not the time to try to win the news cycle, the daily Twitter war, or to behave in a cavalier fashion.

The ongoing brinksmanship with Iran has the potential to place the precious lives of American soldiers at risk in a protracted armed conflict. Which is exactly why the recent escalation between the United States and Iran needs to be treated with the utmost gravity and caution.

We have all watched a series of unexpected developments unfold over the last couple of months, a tit-for-tat sequence that perhaps, could have been prevented and did not need to come this far. In the past several weeks the U.S. has implemented additional sanctions against Iran, Tehran has threatened to further enrich its uranium stockpile closer to weapons-grade, President Trump has announced that more than 1,000 additional troops are going to be sent to the Middle East as a result of mounting tensions with Iran.

However, the two key straws that may have broken the camel’s back were when two oil tankers were attacked near the Strait of Hormuz, which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared was a “blatant assault” by Iran. And later when a U.S. Navy drone was shot down by Iran. America says the unmanned aerial vehicle was in international airspace, while Iran claims that the drone violated its borders.

These two attacks are likely what prompted plans for a retaliatory military strike against Iran, which the president said he called off mere minutes before the attack was set to take place.

Now is a vital time for effective international diplomacy, trust in our intelligence experts, and collaboration with our allies. When it comes to the Iranian nuclear threat, there is neither room for error nor spontaneous impulses that lack strategy.

Instead of carping to the media about advice received from his national security advisers and others, President Trump needs to act with measured thoughtfulness. It is disconcerting to observe that rather than planning and holding confidential conversations with top Middle East and military experts, the administration instead seems to be careening wildly from one option to the next, broadcasting each wild swing in real time via tweets from the president’s personal handle.