Tony Shaffer — Trump to Mullahs: No More Mr. Nice President

Hassan Rouhani and Donald Trump
ALEX HALADA/AFP/Getty Images/Sean Gallup/Getty Images

There’s a new sheriff in town, and the bloodthirsty mullahs controlling Iran are the latest target of President Donald Trump’s unapologetic and effective foreign policy.

The mullahs’ recent series of  provocations against President Trump seem to imply that they think they’re different from other brutal regimes (e.g. North Korea, Syria) and that they can act aggressively against our allies without thoughts of consequences  —  this is not the case.

“To Iranian President Rouhani: … WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!” President Trump tweeted.

President Trump is applying pressure where pressure is needed, and backing up any red-lines he draws in the sand — backing them up with action. This is the same strategy we saw play out in North Korea and Syria — sending a clear message to dictators around the world that the days of American appeasement and weakness are over.

After Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad crossed President Trump’s intolerance of chemical weapons usage in April of 2017, the U.S. rained down Tomahawk missiles on the airfields from where chemical weapons were launched against Syrian civilians. When the red line was crossed again one year later, the U.S. deployed more Tomahawk missiles to Syria, destroying several chemical weapons production plants.

Since then, there have been no confirmed incidents of chemical weapons use from the Assad regime.

Shortly after his success in Syria, President Trump turned his attention to North Korea.

After years of threatening to nuke the United States, and developing technology and weapons to make real this threat, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un was forced to come to the negotiating table with only two options to consider: denuclearize and commit to peace or face the ramifications of “fire and fury.”

After their meeting in Singapore, Chairman Kim signed President Trump’s denuclearization agreement and it was reported recently that North Korea has indeed begun dismantling missile test facilities. And I believe we will see more significant progress with the North Koreans before the end of the year.

President Trump’s next foreign policy agenda item is to stop Iran from its threatening behavior towards our country and our allies and remain focused on preventing the Mullahs from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Unlike Obama’s strategy in the Middle East, which included appeasing Islamic theocrats with cash payments for ransom and the admitted blunder of the Syrian “red line,” President Trump has approached the region with strength and resolve. In addition, the President has demanded that our allies in the region take more responsibility themselves in combating the primary threats in their own backyard.

For years, the Islamic regime in Iran has taken advantage of the U.S. by arming terrorists in the Middle East, enhancing their ballistic missile program, and routinely threatening our allies. They have engage in a proxy war using the Houthi rebels in Yemen to attack our ally Saudi Arabia.

During the negotiating period of Obama’s infamous Iran Deal in 2015, Iran’s navy made it a point to harass and humiliate U.S. Navy ships and Tehran continued to routinely test their nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. Iran’s other provocations included anti-American parades, the buzzing of U.S. ships with drones, shining high-powered lasers at U.S. helicopter pilots, and even capturing ten U.S. Navy sailors at sea.

This tepid response, which only encourages more threatening behavior, is over.

One of President Trump’s first steps to counter Iran was to completely pull out of the disastrous Iran Deal that sent American taxpayers’ money to a regime that has killed Americans and has called for the destruction of our ally Israel.

Since President Trump has taken office, the number of incidents of Iranian harassment of U.S. warships fell from 36 in 2016 to 14 in 2017. There have been zero so far this year  — due in large part to President Trump’s tough rhetoric and peace through strength policies.

With a strong leader now at the helm, the days of foreign countries threatening to destroy America are coming to an end, as have the days of endless U.S. wars. The President has proven that he will do whatever it takes to keep us out of costly wars that drain both American blood and our economy. Tough talk and red-lines successfully avoided war with North Korea and Syria, and could very well do the same with Iran.

As The President said himself, the U.S. is “ready, willing, and able” to make a “new and lasting deal” with the Islamic regime.

President Trump’s primary duty as commander-in-chief is to protect American citizens and defend our country from all enemies. When countries like Iran blatantly threaten our way of life, or interests and our allies, it encourages other power-hungry dictators to follow suit. President Trump knows that allowing problems like this to fester is the quickest path to war — something he plans to avoid by using the age-old adage of peace through strength; a strength backed up with an effective resolve that includes action when necessary.

Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer is a retired senior intelligence operations officer who served more than 30 years with the U.S. Army and is the Vice President for Strategic Initiatives & Operations at the London Center for Policy Research.

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