It’s not often I disagree with President Trump. But as someone who has witnessed the brutal actions of Iran firsthand, I believe the president’s decision to put new financial sanctions on the country in response to the downing of a U.S. surveillance drone is simply not enough to deter Iran in the near term.
The U.S. has almost 1,000 separate sanctions levied against Iran already. There is no doubt the Iranians are being squeezed economically and their latest actions are a sign that they are feeling it. Targeting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei directly with sanctions will likely exacerbate the situation and produce additional military strikes by Iran.
The latest attack on our own drone makes it clear to me that Iran’s hardliners currently believe we are at war with them. They have clearly been covertly at war with us for years.
The hardliners were smart enough, until recently, to not directly target U.S. properties. That is why this Iranian strike on our surveillance drone last week represents such a serious change in the Iranian leadership’s calculus and an escalation that absolutely warranted a direct response from our military forces.
Yet we did nothing.
By not conducting even a limited military strike, we look weak in the eyes of the Iranian leadership.
My fear is that due to this perceived weakness, we will see another Iranian attack in the near term directed against our forces. The Iranians feel emboldened because they got away with their attack on our drone.
Trump's decision to call off airstrikes and instead increase sanctions makes the Iranian leadership believe we are not ready to take the appropriate action necessary to defend ourselves.
If we did nothing when Iran took out a $130 million drone – one of the most expensive in our arsenal – what’s to stop the Iranians from striking our other assets in the region at even half the cost? If it happens another time and we don’t conduct a military strike, Iran will continue down the same path until we do, putting more and more innocent lives in danger.
To be clear, this isn’t about being in the business of revenge. It’s something that should have been done a long time ago to stop the Iranian reign of terror. A U.S. military strike on Iran is about stopping future attacks and American deaths. Iran’s leaders have American blood on their hands and they don’t plan to stop anytime soon.
Iran has never been held accountable for its actions. I know this all too well because I’ve personally witnessed the brutality of the Iranian regime when U.S. soldiers were killed right in front of me as a result of Iranian actions.
I nearly lost my own life when the Iranians trained, equipped, and directed a proxy group to try and bring down a building where other soldiers and I lived in Iraq. A recent Pentagon study proved that over 600 American soldiers have died as a result of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps actions between 2003 and 2011.
When will it end?
When trying to ascertain why Iran is acting as it does, many people don't take into account Iranian culture. This is a regime that only understands the concepts of power and strength. To negotiate right now would be to surrender.
The Iranian government will send its own people to their deaths instead of surrendering to U.S. sanctions pressure. Even this week, Iran’s parliament was seen collectively chanting death to America – a clear indicator that more aggressive action is imminent.
Could you imagine members of our own Congress being psychotic enough to stand up and start screaming death to another country?
While a limited military strike would do more harm to Iran than cyberattacks and increased economic sanctions in the near term, the only thing that will stop the Iranian regime over the long term is time. The truth is that Iran has the potential of being our biggest ally strategically in the Middle East.
With nearly 60 percent of Iran’s population under the age of 30, the youth and the majority of moderates in the nation want change. They want a better relationship and business with the West. They have no appetite for war.
Unfortunately, the actions of Iran are due to a small group of hardliners hell-bent on protecting the principles of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. They will only be stopped when their own people have had enough.
The best thing we can do now is put in place conditions to slow the Iranian regime down and allow the new generation of Iranians to correct the mistakes of the past.