Jim Hanson: US should attack Iran militarily to retaliate for downing of American drone

It’s time for the U.S. to take military action against Iran – not to start a war, but to blow some things up in retaliation for Iran shooting down a U.S. surveillance drone Thursday in international air space, just days after setting off explosives that damaged two oil tankers.

President Trump gave Iran a pass after the recent tanker attacks. But instead of reassessing their strategy and trying to de-escalate tensions, the Iranians escalated significantly by shooting down the American drone – a high-flying unmanned aircraft that costs about $130 million.

I don’t see how President Trump can let Iran’s latest attack pass without action if he expects Iran and other nations to respect the U.S. and not conclude they can attack our forces at will, without fear of retaliation.


Iran’s leaders have been slowly raising the stakes in provocations to see what they can get away with. President Trump needs to set boundaries and make clear that Iran does not have a free hand to do whatever it wants.

Discussing the downing of the U.S. drone, Trump told reporters Thursday that “this country will not stand for it, that I can tell you.”

“They made a very big mistake,” the president said of the Iranians, as he met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “I find it hard to believe it was intentional, and it could have been someone who was loose and stupid.”

Iran acknowledged its attack on the U.S. drone, claiming the drone had entered Iranian airspace. U.S. officials denied that, saying the drone was outside of Iran’s airspace.

In just the past few weeks, Iran has attacked six oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, according to U.S. officials, fired once at a U.S. drone and missed – and now has shot down an American drone.

Despite overwhelming evidence – including a video showing Iranian forces removing an unexploded mine from one tanker – Iran makes the unbelievable claim that it did not attack the oil tankers.

Meanwhile, the Houthi rebels backed by Iran in Yemen shot down a U.S. drone recently and have hit several targets in Saudi Arabia with cruise missiles, including an airport terminal.

It’s important for the U.S. to ensure free passage of ships in the Gulf of Oman, a major route for oil exports from Saudi Arabia and others nations. Iran has threatened in the past to block the Gulf at the narrow Strait of Hormuz.

But even more importantly, the U.S. must send a strong and unmistakable message to all nations who bear us ill will that shooting down a U.S. military aircraft is never acceptable – and will bring about retaliation that will make the aggressor nation live to regret its attack.

So where do we go from here?

Continued tough talk by President Trump – and even more U.S. economic sanctions – are not enough. A good step that would be far short of launching a war would be for U.S. forces to use precision missiles to destroy some naval forces of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Then the U.S. Treasury Department should sanction everyone left in the Iranian regime who hasn’t been targeted until now, and work on shutting off Iran’s access to financial markets and banking systems.

We should lay down a marker to financial institutions around the world telling them that if they work with Iran they can’t work with the U.S.

Unfortunately, past U.S. presidents have let Iran get away with far too much hostile activity. While President George W. Bush was in office, Iran supplied improvised explosive devices to terrorists in Iraq. The IEDs killed approximately 1,000 U.S. troops – and yet the U.S. took no action at all against Iran in response.

This is just one example of how Iran has been getting a pass for far too long for its support of terrorist groups attacking U.S. forces, Israel and other American allies. Iran has also supported other terrorist forces and supports brutal dictator Bashar Assad in the Syrian civil war.

And despite the deeply flawed nuclear deal that former President Barack Obama unwisely signed – and that President Trump wisely withdrew from – Iran has repeatedly threatened that it would resume its nuclear weapons development if provoked.

Iran’s message to the world seems to be to say that its leaders are wild-eyed fanatics who will take crazy military actions if provoked – so everyone needs to back off and not even think about attacking the nation.

President Obama was clearly scared off by the Iranians. He embraced a policy of weakness that excused any malicious activity by the Islamic Republic to make sure he got his nuclear deal at any price.

But even more importantly, the U.S. must send a strong and unmistakable message to all nations who bear us ill will that shooting down a U.S. military aircraft is never acceptable – and will bring about retaliation that will make the aggressor nation live to regret it’s attack.

Never mind that even if the Iranians had honored the deal completely, they would have seen their nuclear ambitions delayed for only a few years. Obama wanted to go down in the history books for a nuclear deal that he falsely hyped as a monumental achievement.

To get his flawed deal, Obama gave the Iranians billions of dollars that they have been using to finance ballistic missiles and their terror spree. And the lifting of international economic sanctions on Iran with the signing of the nuclear deal strengthened the nation’s ability to finance terrorism and other military adventures.

Now President Trump is demanding that other nations join the U.S. in imposing tough economic sanctions on Iran. Desperate to avert major economic damage to their nation, Iranian leaders are ramping up their military activity to once again scare off the U.S. and other nations from acting against them.

President Trump has made it clear that he wants to try to negotiate a new nuclear deal with Iran. That is a long shot, but it will be a lost cause if the Iranians believe they can get away with anything. That was Obama’s mistake. The Iranians took huge advantage of him and won massive concessions.


In a May 8 statement, President Trump described the Iran nuclear deal this way: “WORST DEAL EVER NEGOTIATED: The Iran deal was a disastrous one-sided deal that failed to end Iran’s nuclear program and the full range of the regime’s malign activity.”

If Trump wants to do better – and we all should want him to – he has to deal with Iran from a position of strength. The mullahs who rule Iran have thrown down a gauntlet and are trying to embarrass the United States and make us look weak. We are not weak – and it’s time the leaders of Iran learned that the hard way.