It’s time to act vs. Iran


A US Navy destroyer and three commercial vessels came under attack Sunday from Iran’s terror outfit in Yemen while Iranian proxies resumed attacks against US military bases in Iraq and Syria.

President Biden must face reality: The ayatollah in Iran is attacking Americans and American allies without fear.

Biden so far has responded with American mush, but Ali Khamenei won’t back down until he runs into American steel.

The latest escalation against the USS Carney and three other ships, one British-owned, did not arrive in a vacuum.

Iran is the leading threat to freedom of navigation in the Middle East, perpetrating at least 26 harassments, attacks or seizures between January 2021 and July 2023.

In just the past week, the Yemen-based Houthis — a terrorist ally of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, trained by Hezbollah and armed with missiles and drones from Tehran — launched a drone attack against an Israeli-linked cargo ship and fired two ballistic missiles near another American destroyer, the USS Mason.


The week before that, the Houthis seized a Japanese-operated cargo ship in the Red Sea.

That’s on top of weeks of missile and drone attacks launched from Yemen toward southern Israel — most of which were intercepted by the Carney and Israeli air defenses.

It’s also on top of the 74 Iranian-directed attacks against US forces in Iraq and Syria since Oct. 17 — leaving dozens of US service members injured and one contractor dead.

Biden has deployed two carrier strike groups to the region in what was supposedly a show of force to deter Iran’s regional escalation.

But Tehran has been unimpressed.

A week after Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre, Biden and his closest European allies allowed the United Nations missile embargo on Iran to expire — opting against triggering the snapback of UN sanctions on Tehran. Why? Out of fear Iran would escalate in response.

Weeks later, following dozens of attacks on US forces, Biden issued a sanctions waiver giving Iran access to $10 billion previously held in Iraq.

That’s in addition to the $6 billion ransom payment that still awaits Iran in Qatar and the $30 billion in oil revenue Biden provides through nonenforcement of sanctions.

Biden refuses to add the Houthis back to the official US terror list — a status he revoked shortly after taking office.

And Khamenei keeps driving toward a weapon of mass destruction with the UN’s nuclear watchdog warning that Iran is increasing its production of high-enriched uranium while stonewalling inspectors.

The ayatollah sees Biden offering nothing but money and strategic benefits for Tehran while hesitating to use military power, and warning Jerusalem against targeting Iran’s terror infrastructure on Israel’s northern border.

A new strategy

Biden remains committed to a failed strategic posture that will end with more American and allied deaths and a nuclear-armed state sponsor of terrorism.

His strategy must change.

Refreezing all cash made available to Iran over the last few months and cracking down on Iranian oil shipments to China are the easy first steps.

Senators can force Biden’s hand on both counts by voting on two bills that passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support. 

Next comes the reestablishment of US military deterrence.

America must defend itself and regional allies against any attempt by Iran to retaliate — a reassurance Riyadh and Abu Dhabi need, given the potential for Tehran to break its de-escalation pact with the Gulf Arab states.

By striking Iranian and Houthi targets, Biden would advance the cause of Middle East peace. 

Whatever Biden does next, he must internalize one simple truth: Tehran will keep attacking Americans and US allies unless and until he flashes American steel.

Mark Dubowitz is chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where Richard Goldberg is a senior adviser. Both are sanctioned by Iran.

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