Our goal must be peace, but how can we best ensure it? To deter Iran, we have to be willing to fight—however adverse to war we might be. This means making a credible commitment to fighting if Iran attacks.
Iran is an enemy, both practically and ideologically. They pose an ‘imminent threat’ to the U.S., are a threat to stability in the region, and are the leading state-sponsor of terrorism. Their Elite Revolutionary Guard, a U.S. designated terrorist group, allegedly attacked four tankers last week and Iranian lawmakers chanted “death to America” on the floors of parliament. Domestically, they oppress the Iranian people and deprive them of basic freedoms. The Islamist Mullah-ocracy regime is no friend to the U.S. or liberty.
Sanctions are one way to oppose Iran. They increase pressure on Iran without committing us to armed conflict and, successfully, public discontent within the regime is in part thanks to heavy sanctions. However, sanctions alone are insufficient, especially after The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (Iran nuclear deal). It enabled Iran, giving them leeway that they likely used to develop nuclear arms. Pulling out of the unconstitutional treaty helped establish the right posture toward Iran.
Making it clear to Iran that any act of aggression will not be tolerated raises the U.S.’s commitment but also disincentivizes Iran from testing the limits of how far they can go. Trump’s statement, “If Iran Wants To Fight, That Will Be The Official End Of Iran,” signals that the U.S. will fight if Iran initiates the use of force. Willing to not only fight back but also obliterate the Mullah’s regime raises the stakes, and yet it is the best way for the U.S. to avoid having to go to war. It’s worth mentioning that ultimately Congress must declare war; superseding the Constitution is in itself a threat to America and freedom.
The ultimate goal of an assertive posture is to prevent war. Some foreign policy hawks may have you think otherwise. For some hawks, direct conflict seems to be the goal even when a war is preventable. On the same token, some foreign policy doves argue that peace through strength is counter-intuitive, that any aggressive stance causes a spiral effect that leads to war. However, both beliefs fail to recognize any truth behind the deterrence model: the idea that having a capable defense deters aggression from hostile actors.
Hard-line signaling does carry with it some risks. Going back on our word would make the U.S. look weak to our adversaries. Senator Rand Paul said, “[W]e need to make sure we aren’t involved in anything that is provocative enough to result in a skirmish.” Mistakenly provoking a skirmish carries a high risk of war. However, not taking such a posture carries the risk of unchecked aggression from Iran.
America doesn’t need another endless war. But acting defenseless does nothing to deter aggression. In fact, a weak stance could incentivize actions that would lead to conflict while a strong stance deters them. The U.S. should openly say that it does not want war but will defend itself. Sanctions and negotiations are vacuous unless we are legitimately willing to fight. If the goal is peace, the best way to have it is to commit to a defensive war if Iran attacks.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.