Ren­dezvous with re­al­ity Only Ira­ni­ans can boot the mul­lahs

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By L. Scott Lingam­fel­ter

Af­ter nearly two decades of armed con­flict, Amer­i­cans are war-weary. Can­di­date Don­ald Trump saw this plainly in 2016. That’s why he ad­vo­cated for dis­en­gage­ment from Afghanista­n and Iraq, while in­sist­ing that the United States re­set its re­la­tion­ship with allies and na­tions de­pen­dent on U.S. mil­i­tary forces. He was cor­rect to do so.

We have ex­pended much blood and trea­sure in re­cent years. Many Amer­i­cans know a fam­ily who lost a loved one in com­bat, or a friend or rel­a­tive who lives life as an am­putee. The sui­cide rate at­trib­uted to Post trau­matic stress disor­der (PTSD) serves as a grim re­minder that for some, war never ends. It mer­ci­lessly haunts our vet­er­ans.

Yet, Pres­i­dent Trump has shown his dex­ter­ity in grasp­ing the dou­bleedged

sword that is his re­spon­si­bil­ity as com­man­der in chief of the U.S. mil­i­tary as well as his role as pres­i­den­tial promise­keeper. Once de­ter­mined to with­draw U.S. forces quickly from Iraq and Afghanista­n, he has come to ap­pre­ci­ate that pre­cip­i­tous with­drawals — like the naively gorm­less ac­tions of his pre­de­ces­sor — make things worse, in­deed re­quir­ing the re-en­try or re­in­force­ment of U.S. ground troops to se­cure vic­tory.

Un­fin­ished com­bat rarely pro­duces an ef­fi­ca­cious re­sult, but rather elon­gates the strug­gle. Like­wise, the pres­i­dent has not with­drawn from vi­tal al­liances like the North At­lantic Treaty Or­ga­ni­za­tion (NATO) or ex­tracted U.S. forces from South Korea stand­ing op­po­site a dan­ger­ous and ag­gres­sive North Korea. More­over, the pres­i­dent has done im­pres­sive work in re­viv­ing, re­set­ting and re-arm­ing the Amer­i­can mil­i­tary. He has em­braced peace through strength. None­the­less, it would be a mis­take to think Mr. Trump has aban­doned his prom­ise to dis­en­gage from end­less wars or re­form­ing al­liances that take our money for granted while ne­glect­ing their own obli­ga­tions. Re­al­ity has set­tled in when it comes to the main­te­nance of power and the ne­ces­sity to fin­ish work with cer­ti­tude. Ask ISIS if Mr. Trump has the will to keep his prom­ises. He does.

Pres­i­dent Trump has seen first­hand that a multi-po­lar world is multi-dan­ger­ous. One need look no fur­ther than our per­sis­tent ri­val­ries with China, Rus­sia, North Korea and Cuba along with the cir­cum­am­bi­ent threat of ter­ror that is the Mid­dle East, to say noth­ing of newer ones like Venezuela. For Mr. Trump, this has been a ren­dezvous with re­al­ity, and he has shown that he un­der­stands that his ea­ger­ness to dis­en­gage must be mod­er­ated by the will to stay en­gaged. That re­al­ity is about to be dra­mat­i­cally played out with the al­most cer­tain mil­i­tary con­flict hov­er­ing near and around Iran.

Mr. Trump cor­rectly sees Iran for what it is: A ter­ror state, com­mit­ted to nu­cle­ariza­tion and dom­i­nance of the Mid­dle East re­gion. It is a pro­found threat to our most trust­wor­thy ally in the re­gion, Is­rael. Iran is also openly hos­tile to Saudi Ara­bia and its Gulf neigh­bors, de­sirous to as­sert in­flu­ence in Iraq, and stub­bornly rooted in Syria and Le­banon with pesti­len­tial mili­tias ac­tively sow­ing the seeds of vi­o­lence and ter­ror. Mr. Trump’s in­de­fati­ga­ble op­po­si­tion to Iran’s hos­tile geo-po­lit­i­cal de­signs — cou­pled with crip­pling sanc­tions he has im­ple­mented — poses an ex­is­ten­tial threat to the mul­lahs who rule the Per­sian state. Iran is now pos­tured to lash out as their oil rev­enues dry up and turn to dust.

Re­cent news reports re­veal the United States is po­si­tion­ing an air­craft car­rier strike group and a bomber task force to the Gulf re­gion amid “clear in­di­ca­tions” Iran and its prox­ies may be plan­ning an at­tack on our de­ployed forces there. The pres­i­dent’s ac­tion demon­strates that he has em­braced an­other les­son of lead­er­ship; see things as they are, not as you would wish them to be.

Armed con­flict with Iran looms. The con­di­tions are ripe, and don’t be mis­taken. Iran has set the stage through their ag­gres­sion and sup­port of ter­ror in the world. When that con­flict comes to a head — and it may soon — the United States must en­gage quickly, de­ci­sively and in a man­ner that makes clear to the Ira­nian peo­ple that our dis­pute isn’t with them but with the ter­ror-mul­lahs who are bring­ing ruin on their state. Ira­ni­ans are be­ing de­prived of peace and pros­per­ity by the ay­a­tol­lahs and their Is­lamic Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard Corps (IRGC) satraps, the lat­ter prop­erly cat­e­go­rized as a ter­ror or­ga­ni­za­tion by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion. It’s time for both to go.

But the Ira­nian peo­ple — not the United States — must over­throw their op­pres­sors. If armed con­flict is re­quired, Amer­ica’s role in that ef­fort should be the use of crip­pling mil­i­tary force against strate­gic tar­gets thereby set­ting the con­di­tions for Ira­ni­ans them­selves to ex­tin­guish their tor­men­tors. Na­tion-build­ing is the Ira­nian peo­ple’s prov­ince, not ours. How­ever, we must never grow weary of our role in fos­ter­ing the con­di­tions for jus­tice, free­dom and en­dur­ing peace. As Pres­i­dent Harry S. Tru­man put it, “Our goal must be — not peace in our time — but peace for all time.” That’s a prom­ise worth keep­ing, too.

But the Ira­nian peo­ple — not the United States — must over­throw their op­pres­sors.

L. Scott Lingam­fel­ter, a re­tired U.S, Army colonel, com­bat veteran and Mid­dle East For­eign Area of­fi­cer, served in the Vir­ginia Gen­eral Assem­bly.


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