The focus on the partial government shutdown has left little room for other news. But Washington elites still managed to find another reason to complain about the Trump administration over the weekend––they were shocked by the report that National Security Advisor John Bolton requested the Pentagon to provide the National Security Council (NSC) with military options to strike Iran last year.
Bolton made the request after Iranian-supported militias in Iraq fired rockets against the U.S. consulate in Basra and at Baghdad’s green zone, where the U.S. embassy is located, on September 6, 2018. Although fortunately no one was injured, the United States still regarded the militias’ actions as “life-threatening attacks” against the United States.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made it known that “the United States will hold the regime in Tehran accountable for any attack that results in injury to our personnel or damage to United States government facilities.” She further promised that “America will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of American lives.”
As national security advisor, Bolton’s request to the Pentagon for military options to strike Iran is reasonable. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Pentagon developed some military options upon Bolton’s request. However, unnamed sources (of course) told the Journal that the request raised alarm within the Defense and State Departments, saying “People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran.”
In the end, other than public statements, the United States didn’t really do anything to Iran as a response. But over the past weekend, Washington elites were still shocked that Bolton even made such a request in the first place. Apparently there are many weak knees in Washington.
I am also shocked. I am shocked that Iran has been a U.S. strategic enemy and has done so much harm to Americans and U.S. assets, yet the Pentagon doesn’t have military options against Iran ready to go. Why hasn’t the United States done anything to teach Tehran not to mess with the United States?
Newsflash: Iran Is At War With Us
For those who called Bolton a “war monger,” here is news for you: Iran may not have formally declared war on the United States yet, but make no mistake, it is at war with the United States. It’s not the conventional war where two nation states declare war first then fight it out on a battlefield with conventional troops.
Instead, Iran has relied on various terrorist proxies––all are funded, trained, and armed by Tehran and take orders from Tehran––to harm Americans for at least four decades. Here is a long, yet incomplete list of some Iran’s aggression against the United States from 1979 to 2018.
- 1979-1981: Inspired by the Islamic Revolution, a group of Iranian students took control of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, holding 52 U.S. diplomats and citizens hostage for 444 days.
- 1983: Suicide bombers of Hezbollah, a terrorist organization founded and supported by Iran, bombed the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, in April, killing 17 Americans. In October of that year, Hezbollah bombed the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 Americans.
- 1984-1985: Hezbollah was responsible for the kidnapping, torturing, and killing of William Buckley, the CIA station chief in Beirut, Lebanon. Strong evidence suggests Buckley was secretly held inside Iran before being transferred back to Beirut by his kidnappers, and was tortured and interrogated by officers from Iran’s Revolution Guard and intelligence agency.
- 1985: Hezbollah was responsible for hijacking TWA flight 847 and killing U.S. Navy Petty Officer Second Class Robert Stethem.
- 1988: Hezbollah was responsible for kidnapping, torturing, and murdering Marine Lt. Col. William “Rich” Higgins when he was part of the United Nations’ peace-keeping mission in Beirut. Higgins eventually was recognized as a prisoner of war.
- 2003-2011: Throughout the Iraq war, Iran provided training and materials to Shiite militias. These Iranian-supported militias killed hundreds of U.S. service members and civilians through both conventional weapons and improvised explosive devices (IEDs)
- 2007-present: Iran has, for decades, imprisoned U.S. citizens on trumped up charges and without due process. One example: former FBI agent Bob Levinson has been held without word since 2007.
The list of aggression against the United States is long because each time Iran and its proxies harm Americans, the United States chooses not to call Iran out. We haven’t done anything decisive to retaliate, even though we have plenty of intelligence to show Tehran is behind every item on this list. The lack of forceful and direct response hasn’t bought Americans any less harm, but only emboldened the mullahs and their minions.
The most humiliating event on the list was in January 2016. Iran harassed and seized two U.S. naval vessels and 10 U.S. sailors in the Persian Gulf. Iran made the most out of the seizure by publishing a series of images and videos showing the U.S. sailors in humiliating positions and Iranian authorities inspecting our vessels and weapons on the vessels.
These images and videos are a clear violation of articles 13 and 17 of the Geneva Convention, which sets a standard for treatment of civilians, prisoners of war, and soldiers who are unable to fight. Yet the Obama administration was so eager to sign a nuclear deal with the mullah that it accepted this humiliation without any complaint and even sang the praises of Tehran.
We all know, by now, that the nuclear deal the Obama administration signed did little to contain Iran’s nuclear development, but afforded the mullahs plenty of money to develop weaponry and fund global terrorism against both the United States and its allies.
Military Options Are More than Reasonable
The Trump administration made the right decision to pull out from such a bad deal and re-impose economic sanctions against Iran. In addition, from President Trump to key officials such as Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the United States has kept up the public threats. Despite the economic hardship and domestic unrest, the Iranian government hasn’t stopped making verbal threats, or developing weapons, or directing its proxies to harm Americans whenever and wherever they can.
Bolton was right to ask the Pentagon for military options. In order to keep America safe, the United States should never rule out military options against Iran, and should let Iran know that the United States is always ready and willing to take such actions.
As our founding father George Washington said, “There is a rank due to the United States among nations which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness. If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for war.” Therefore, rather than worrying about Bolton, we should be more concerned about those weak-kneed Washington elites.