Lack of Retaliation Emboldens Iran

Iran recently attacked a US military base in southern Syria with suicide drones. The US declined to respond and thus did not launch a counter-attack. This sends a very dangerous message that US targets can be attacked with impunity by Iran and its proxies without the US responding. Apparently, the US is so keen on the completely hopeless JCPOA track that the Americans are ready to absorb Iranian attacks without responding. This reinforces the basic condition that the US is deterred by Iran while Iran is not deterred by the US. This is very dangerous to American national security and strengthens the Iranian regime’s perception that Democratic administrations are “weak” and afraid of Iran. 

It appears that there is a lack of understanding of Middle Eastern political culture in the current US administration as sending a message of what is perceived as “weakness” is very dangerous indeed in the Middle East. The US dares not attack the Iranian nuclear weapons program for fear of Iranian mass terrorist 9/11-style attacks against the American homeland. However, Iran is apparently not afraid to attack American targets and this makes the US highly vulnerable indeed. The collapse in American and Israeli deterrence vis-a-vis Iran is a very serious problem and Iran is ready to use chemical weapons against civilian populations to further reinforce its deterrence vis-a-vis America and establish deterrence vis-a-vis Israel so as to scare Israel from destroying the Iranian nuclear weapons program. The lack of a US military response to the Iranian drone attack is very dangerous as it emboldens Iran and creates the impression that the regime is free to take any rogue action it chooses without risking any consequences.

The JCPOA nears the point of effective irrelevance due to rapid Iranian advances in uranium enrichment towards Iran reaching nuclear threshold status. There is an urgent need for the US to reassess policy and devise a new Iran strategy based on weakening and deterring Iran. It is nevertheless understandable that the US wants to outsource the destruction of the Iranian nuclear weapons program to Israel as it is rational for the US to subcontract as much as possible of its duties as the sole superpower to its allies. 

The US should however replace Rob Malley as United States Special Representative for Iran since having an infamous appeaser of Islamism in charge of the Iran file sends a very dangerous message, tantamount to what in the Middle East is perceived as “weakness”. There is nothing more dangerous in the Middle East than being perceived as “weak” and this is an effective invitation to more Iranian attacks – both military attacks and terrorist attacks – against American targets. Current US policy on Iran does not only endanger strategic interests which the US shares with its Middle Eastern allies but it endangers the American homeland.

Published by Daniella Bartfeld

Daniella Bartfeld is the founding director of the Aliyah Organization.

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