I’ve written previous articles (here and here) about President Trump’s approach to military interventions in the Middle East. After several key Iranian military leaders were killed last night, some are wondering if we’re looking at a protracted war with Iran. I do not think that’s a likely scenario. Let me explain why.
Donald Trump was elected on a foreign policy of “peace through strength”—a motto he borrowed from Ronald Reagan. Reagan realized that the key to ending the Cold War was displaying sufficient military strength and the will to use it in a way that would cause the Soviet Union to fold. Reagan’s strategy worked. He avoided a nuclear exchange by a demonstration of strength.
Barack Obama counseled Trump prior to his inauguration, saying the most difficult challenge he would face was avoiding war with North Korea. Trump asked Obama if he had talked with Chairman Kim. Obama said he had not because Kim was a dictator. Trump was astounded that Obama never even tried to speak with Kim. He called Obama’s policy “stupid.”
Trump opened communications with Kim, likely through a backchannel and also on Twitter. Trump’s tweets were perceived by many as foolish.
I spoke with President Moon of South Korea last night. Asked him how Rocket Man is doing. Long gas lines forming in North Korea. Too bad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 17, 2017
Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me “old,” when I would NEVER call him “short and fat?” Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 12, 2017
In this tweet, POTUS taunted Kim about his ‘nuclear button”
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2018
Pundits insisted Trump’s insults and taunting would only lead to further hostility, and possibly, war. But Trump had applied heavy economic sanctions to North Korea which were making life difficult for Kim.
Sanctions and “other” pressures are beginning to have a big impact on North Korea. Soldiers are dangerously fleeing to South Korea. Rocket man now wants to talk to South Korea for first time. Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not – we will see!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018
Although Obama had never even tried to negotiate peace with North Korea, in June of 2018, Trump met with Kim in Singapore to discuss denuclearization. Trump’s tactics may be unconventional, but they get results.
During his bid for the White House, Trump blasted previous Presidents for the wars they had started. During his first two years in office, Trump allowed military leaders to run their game plan, but when it was clear they had no intention of leaving Afghanistan or Syria, he made personnel changes and announced that our troops would be coming home. Trump has signaled to everyone who will listen, his intent to get us out of the endless wars in Asia and the Middle East.
This philosophy applies to Iran, but Iran presents a unique set of problems. The Obama administration entered into the disastrous Iran deal, which allowed Iran to develop nuclear weapons covertly. (Benjamin Netanyahu exposed Iran’s secret weapons program in April of 2018).
Iran wages violence in the region via the use of proxies. Initial reports on the missile attack on a Saudi oil field in September did not connect it to Iran, but evidence later showed it was an Iranian-backed operation. The attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad was initially reported as not being connected to Iran, but later, the State Department said it had proof that those who attacked the embassy were an Iranian proxy group. Iran’s highest-ranking military leader, Qassem Soleimani was killed in an airstrike at Baghdad International Airport last night. If Iran was not behind the recent attack on the U.S. embassy, what was Soleimani doing in Baghdad?
To maintain a strategic advantage over his opponents, Donald Trump does not reveal his plans in advance, but he will signal his intentions to people to pose a threat.
To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2018
Barack Obama threatened Bashar al-Assad with a “red line in the sand” over the use of chemical weapons. When chemical weapons were used, and Obama did nothing, it signaled to Iran and every other rogue nation that Obama was a paper tiger who would not hold them accountable for acts of violence.
Trump’s personal decision to order the airstrike on Iran’s highest military leader signaled to Iran (and other rogue leaders) that if they believe they can continue using acts of terror against the U.S and its allies there will be painful consequences. That’s what it looks like when the “strength” component of a “peace through strength” foreign policy is applied in real life.
President Trump has demonstrated no interest in starting another war. He knows the Iranian people are being held captive by corrupt political leaders but regime change is not a primary objective. His primary goal is a negotiated peace agreement. The use of economic sanctions are intended to break the will of Iran’s leaders and cause them to agree to peace talks.
If Iran’s leaders act foolishly and take military action against the U.S. we should expect a swift response from President Trump. Militarily, Iran is no match for the U.S. and Iran has few allies. Most nations in the region are friendly to the U.S. including Israel and Saudi Arabia. Russia might be expected to help Iran, but Putin may see them as a liability and refrain from becoming involved. NATO would have little choice but to support the U.S. I would expect any military intervention in Iran to be over quickly.
Please pray for President Trump and his team to have the wisdom to negotiate these events with godly wisdom and for peace to finally come to the Middle East.