Is the President of the United States a mere “twitter warrior?” Or is he really serious about Iran? Here is his early morning, all-caps statement that is making heads explode in the Twittersphere:
The proximate cause for Trump’s tweet was a threat by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani the day before to close the Strait of Hormuz to international shipping traffic, where he warned Trump, “Do not play with the lion’s tail; you will regret it forever.”
Rouhani himself was responding to a momentous speech at the Reagan Library by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, where he outlined the new “Trump Doctrine” toward Iran.
“The mission set for our team is clear,” Pompeo said. “It’s to deny the Iranian leadership the resources, the wealth, the funds, the capacity to continue to foment terrorism around the world and to deny the people inside of Iran the freedoms that they so richly deserve.”
If you’re reading this page, you’ve probably already had your fill of the hysterics and bombast from the organized left in response to this latest Trump tweet, starting with Rachel Maddow, the Atlantic, and their fellow gutter-creatures.
So here is what you need to know to determine whether this President is serious.
Jan. 20, 2017: Donald Trump takes office.
Jan. 29, 2017: Iran launches a medium-range nuclear-capable missile to probe the intentions of the new administration.
Feb. 1, 2017: National Security advisor Michael Flynn makes an appearance in the White House briefing room, telling reporters that the administration is “officially putting Iran on notice” to stop such tests.
Feb. 3, 2017: The U.S. administration imposes new sanctions on Iranian individuals and companies involved in the missile program.
The Iranians cooled their heels for seven months after that. When they next conducted a missile test in September 2017, it prompted an immediately – if restrained – response from the President.
Remember that by this point, the President was already embroiled in the Mueller probe, and was being advised by a Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and a national security advisor, H.R. McMaster, who were both eager to preserve the bad Iran nuclear deal.
Nevertheless, on October 13, 2017, President Trump took the first step toward withdrawing from the deal by refusing to certify that Iran was in compliance. He pulled out of the deal formally on May 8, 2018, unleashing a firestorm of doom and gloom predictions from our European allies and from former Obama administration officials, who have taken to behaving like official lobbyists for Tehran.
The Iranians responded by threatening to immediately resume uranium enrichment, a gesture which former international nuclear inspector David Albright qualified as “more bark than bite,” and—once again–- to close the Strait of Hormuz to international shipping. (If they don’t threaten to close the Strait of Hormuz once a month, they might forget where it is).
Here are the little-known facts, as tweeted out by the President on July 8:
Iranian harassment of U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf ceased almost as soon as the President took office in January 2017, going down from 36 incidents in 2016 to just 14 incidents in 2017. (The last was in August 2017). For the past twelve months, the Iranian navy and the IRGC fast attack boats have not once threatened a U.S. warship. Guess why?
In the case of this regime in Tehran, it’s sometimes necessary to speak loudly and carry a big stick. That has been President Trump’s approach, and it is working.
The regime has scaled back its ballistic missile tests, and in recent months has restrained its Houthi allies in Yemen from firing missiles into Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
And while Iran has continued to expand and solidify its “land bridge” through Iraq and Syria to the Israeli border, it now faces virtually unlimited counter-strikes from the Israel Air Force that Prime Minister Netanyahu coordinates ahead of time with Russia.
As with so many other issues involving this President, skeptics need to look at his actions, not just his tweets–– although I happen to enjoy his tweets, and think they are an effective means of speaking directly to friends and foes over the heads of the drive-by media.
The Pompeo speech was everything pro-freedom advocates in Iran could have wished. If you read nothing else today, please take five minutes to read the entire speech. It is amazing.
In it, Pompeo made clear that he – and by extension, the President – understand the futility of past efforts to change the behavior of the Tehran regime by offering inducements and concessions. We are facing a regime that behaves in accordance with its profound anti-Western, expansionist, Sharia-imposing ideology. The only way we in the West can change that behavior is by helping the people of Iran to reclaim their country and their government.
And those Iranian “moderates” Washington always seems to be seeking? Pompeo drew laughs from the audience when he joked they were the “Iranian unicorn,” a mythical beast.
Pompeo cited specific examples of top regime officials who have stolen hundreds of millions of dollars – and in the case of the Supreme Leader, $95 billion – from the people of Iran. That’s a first from a senior U.S. leader. And, as I hinted above, he made clear that this administration understands that the root of the problem is “the revolutionary nature of the regime itself,” in other words, its ideology.
The tyrants of Tehran are freaking out.
For decades they thought they could bully the United States into inaction. Not since President Reagan sank one-third of the Iranian navy during Operation Praying Mantis in April 1988 has the United States stood up to Iranian military provocation in the Gulf.
Put simply, we have nothing to fear from a military confrontation with Iran, especially in the waters of the Persian Gulf. But the Iranians are very afraid.
Add to this the rapid plunge of the Iranian currency following the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran deal – before new sanctions were even imposed – and you can understand the growing panic in Tehran.
The mullahs are going down. They can smell it. They see a multitude of opposition groups meeting in Germany and the United States openly and proudly, in ways not seen since 2007. They see the new budget from the State Department to support Internet freedom in Iran taking effect, making it increasingly hard for them to kill dissidents in darkness. They see a U.S. administration openly reaching out to dissidents, and openly embracing their cause. And they see their economy circling the drain—as I say, even before new sanctions go into place next month.
Their days are numbered, and they know it.
Secretary Pompeo reminded the nay-sayers, who claim it could be “centuries” before the regime falls, of how quickly things can change. “There are disjunctive moments. There are times when things happen that are unexpected, unanticipated. Our revolution will be one of them,” he said.
Amen to that.
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EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in FrontPage Magazine.