President Trump this week tweeted a warning that the United States. would “shoot down and destroy” Iranian vessels after U.S. Navy ships were aggressively confronted in the Persian Gulf. In response, the leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps vowed to “destroy” American warships, illustrating the escalating danger to America posed by Iran.
While I am a lifelong Democrat, I also consider our national security of paramount importance. I believe that Trump’s approach to Iran should earn the support of all who believe in safeguarding America and its citizens.
This opinion may make me unpopular among fellow Democrats. But it shouldn’t, given that Trump’s actions fulfill precisely what we Democrats have long professed to want when it comes to dealing with Iran.
The official Democratic policy platform articulated before the 2016 presidential election noted that Iran “has its fingerprints on almost every conflict in the Middle East,” expressed the willingness to “ensure that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon” and pledged to “robustly enforce and, if necessary, strengthen non-nuclear sanctions.”
Trump has delivered on all of these while also employing decisive, but calculated, military might against Tehran, reinstating the sense of deterrence that crumbled under the Obama administration. The drone elimination of Iran’s top military commander Qassem Soleimani, a man personally responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans, was a game-changer that finally showed Iran that it would be held accountable for fomenting global terrorism.
This act should have been met with bipartisan praise and support. Instead, it prompted criticism and misguided attempts by Congress to limit through the Iran War Powers Act the commander-in-chief’s ability to push back against Iran.
It was an ironic move by the Democrats given that Trump continues to exhibit enormous restraint toward Iran on his own. While never one to mince words, the president’s action so far has involved carefully calibrated force to defend America while avoiding escalations that could spiral into a larger conflict.
Meanwhile, Iran has flatly rejected U.S. offers for medical assistance to help it handle the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, while simultaneously blaming sanctions for its own death toll and mocking the infection rate on our shores. Iran’s Supreme Leader even had the audacity to accuse America of manufacturing the coronavirus to murder its citizens.
The Trump administration has correctly pledged to block the International Monetary Fund from acceding to Iranian demands for $5 billion in emergency loans under the guise of COVID-19 aid. The Islamic Republic, which received a windfall of tens of billions from President Obama as part of that administration’s ill-advised nuclear deal, has a history of diverting financial resources toward its illicit nuclear program and sponsorship of terrorism.
The latest illustration of why American sanctions must remain in effect is the recent revelation by David Albright, a former International Atomic Energy Agency inspector, of yet another secret Iranian nuclear facility that has never been inspected. At this uranium workshop, Iran worked to develop and make components that could be used to form the explosive core of an atomic weapon.
Albright called out Iran’s renewed nuclear pursuits. He declared “a new generation of centrifuges would soon come online at the Natanz fuel enrichment plant” and revealed that Iran’s enriched uranium production and stockpiles have returned to the same levels where they were prior to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal. Before his administration negotiated and agreed to that deal, Obama himself had pointed out “Iran’s continuing unwillingness to meet its obligations under U.N. Security Council resolutions and IAEA requirements.”
Thanks to the resolve of Trump and his Administration, Iran finally is receiving the clear message that the United States will not abide Iran’s nefarious behaviors; nor will America allow money to flow into the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. This despite Iran’s proclaimed need for COVID-19 assistance, while concurrently funding attacks on American troops, inflaming the Middle East and pursing mankind’s most destructive weapons.
Given the Democratic Party’s clearly articulated position that Iran must never be permitted to develop nuclear weapons, tempered by the desire to avoid armed conflict, Trump deserves its credit for pursuing policies of deterrence toward a rogue regime that is our biggest national security threat.
Democrats should set aside their reflexive hatred of this president and place patriotism over politics by recognizing this reality.
Harley Lippman is a serial entrepreneur, businessman and Democrat from Miami.