Getting Real with Iran

Ronald Reagan split the difference – communicating his leadership effectively, while conveying a strong belief in the people he was leading, essentially preserving the nation. His power politics enabled the U.S. to win the Cold War by basically scaring the Soviets into submission. In the end, the U.S. didn’t have to fire a single shot. The projection of American hard power made the use of force unnecessary.

The good news is that Iran is much weaker than the Soviet Union, and there are options for defeating it short of war. A prerequisite to that is being clear-eyed about the nature of evil – which is to say, accepting that it is manifest and must be stopped. To persist, America must preserve its values and retain its dominance.

A good way to start demonstrating American leadership is by being a reliable partner to the allies who count on us for protection. For instance, the U.S. could extend its nuclear umbrella to strategic partners in the region. A more ambitious undertaking would see the U.S. deploying naval and ground expeditionary units, as well as additional intelligence assets, across the Middle East. Doing so would signal -- both to America’s allies and enemies -- the U.S. has the will, power, and resolve to counter the Iranian threat.

A more comprehensive strategy could mirror the politico-military strategy the U.S. wielded successfully against the Soviets. In the case of Iran, that would entail drawing a direct link between the regime’s regional policies and any improvement to its economy. The administration would make the relaxing of sanctions contingent on Iran ending its support for terror abroad and repression at home. To be fully effective, U.S. support for these policies must be explicit, outspoken, and ongoing.

The American people have not forgotten their moral obligation to lead. We have always defined our strategic interests and sought to defend them by dictating strength and displaying leadership. We know that sometimes, as is the case with Iran, if we do not act decisively now, we will pay an even greater price later.

It’s still not too late for President Obama to get serious about the nature of the threats America faces and to take the appropriate measures. Our allies are counting on us to counter attempts to undermine American interests, and our enemies are hoping we won’t.

It's time the president utilized the ultimate deterrent: belief in American exceptionalism.