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October 31, 2023

Effective Deterrence and the Lack Thereof

It’s becoming crystal clear in one conflict after another that not all presidents are equally good at deterring our enemies.

If Joe Biden meant to send a message to the Iranian regime about its ongoing efforts to harass, maim, and kill American troops in the region, the mullahs clearly didn’t get it.

Otherwise, why would they keep on attacking us following last week’s U.S. airstrikes against two facilities linked to Iranian forces in Syria?

The Biden administration went even further than the retaliatory strikes. Over the weekend, Biden officially notified Congress via a letter to House Speaker Mike Johnson and Senate Pro Tempore President Patty Murray of those strikes, thereby exercising his duty under the War Powers Act, as The Washington Times reports. Indeed, Biden vowed to “take further action” should U.S. bases and troops in the region come under additional attack. “I directed the strikes,” said Biden, “in order to protect and defend our personnel, to degrade and disrupt the ongoing series of attacks against the United States and our partners, and to deter Iran and Iran-backed militia groups from conducting or supporting further attacks on United States personnel and facilities.”

And yet: “From Oct. 17 to Oct. 30,” the Washington Examiner reports, “U.S. and coalition forces have been attacked at least 14 times at al Asad Air Base in Iraq and nine times at al Tanf garrison in Syria via a mix of one-way attack drones and rockets for a total of 23 attacks to date, a senior defense official told reporters on Monday. The total demonstrated an increase from late last week.”

A senior defense official said that we’d “successfully disrupted” many of these attacks and that most of them had “failed to reach their targets thanks to our robust defenses.” But that’s not really the point, is it?

The point is deterrence, and Joe Biden simply doesn’t get it.

We’re reminded here about Winston Churchill’s devastating assessment of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Adolf Hitler at Munich in 1938: “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war.”

Globalists and Obama-era apologists were indignant when Donald Trump ripped up their guy’s awful Iran nuke deal, but what was the result? In his 2019 book The Case for Trump, Victor Davis Hanson puts forth the undeniable facts: “What followed the pull-out from the Iran deal were foiled Iranian-planned terrorist operations in Europe, popular Iranian protests against the theocracy at home, and zero incidents of Iranian hazing and confrontations with American warships in the Persian Gulf.”

Those are some pretty good results, no? And they came from credible deterrence.

Joe Biden, on the other hand, can’t seem to get the deterrence thing. “He has done nothing to hold the Iranian regime accountable,” said former Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “Literally nothing. Indeed, he’s done just the reverse of that.”

Later in his book, Hanson sounds downright prophetic about Iran’s long-game strategy in the wake of a nuke deal: “Iran had always likely assumed from its one-sided agreement that, once freed from sanctions, it could build up cash reserves during its decade of non-proliferation compliance, use its newfound income to advance its ballistic and cruise missile programs, subsidize terrorism and insurrections, build a Shia crescent through Syria and Lebanon, and all the while accelerate nuclear research and technology.”

Texas Congressman Dan Crenshaw, a retired Navy SEAL, understands deterrence. And he’s seen it practiced by a master. Two weeks ago on Fox News, he offered these insights:

If you want to prevent war, you have to be able to threaten it and threaten it credibly. And that takes statements that make people uncomfortable. President Trump did this all the time. He had an intuition for what deterrence actually was. President Biden whispering “Don’t do it, don’t do it” into the microphone is not as effective. … Iran and Hezbollah are actively in the decision-making process about whether they will open up that multifront war [against Israel] … and that decision will be dependent on what they think will happen to them in return. If you want to prevent war, you have to make it very clear that you’re willing to beat the crap out of your enemies if they try something.

That’s deterrence, folks. Some leaders get it, and others don’t. And the ones who don’t not only provoke our enemies — they put our own forces at risk.

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