- - Thursday, February 4, 2016


Iran’s recent capture of two U.S. Navy 47-foot Riverine Command Boats (RCBs) that were on a routine transit from Kuwait to Bahrain on January 12 is another example of the arrogance and contempt Iran holds for America and our political leadership.

The U.S. Navy sailors were humiliated by being forced to kneel with their hands behind their heads in a submissive position. Then Iran had videos of this degrading scene distributed worldwide. To add insult to injury, Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei recently awarded medals to the five Revolutionary Guard naval commanders for “capturing” the 10 U.S. soldiers.

A few days after the RCBs incident, Iran flew a drone over the carrier USS Harry S. Truman, which is not only dangerous but unprofessional. At about the same time, Iran reportedly had one of their Ghadir class submarines targeting the carrier. There should be no doubt that these acts are provocative and are a form of “conditioning” of U.S. Naval forces to accept Iran’s aggression tactics as the norm. This is unacceptable.

While the carrier reportedly launched a helicopter to get a closer look at the drone, what should have happened is that the drone should have been shot down. The Persian Gulf must be treated as a war zone. The United States must send a clear message that these provocative acts will not be tolerated. Appropriate action against the submarine should also have been taken.

Likewise, on Dec. 26, 2015, an Iranian naval ship approached within 1,500 yards of the carrier Harry S. Truman while it was transiting the restricted Straits of Hormuz, and fired rockets in a direction away from the carrier. This was not only a provocation but was another form of “conditioning,” and also unacceptable. The U.S. Fifth Fleet should declare an “exclusion zone” around our carrier to prevent these aggressive actions by Iran, unless it is prepared to suffer the consequences.

The United States. has imposed some “weak” sanctions against Iran’s ballistic missile program. This was due to two ballistic missile tests Iran conducted in October and December in violation of U.N. sanctions. Iran’s ballistic missile program is controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The head of the IRGC missile program is Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hazezadeh, who bloviated that Iran’s response will be “offensive.” What has to be made clear to Iran is that they are targeted by our most advanced ballistic missile submarines, and if they do something stupid they will no longer exist.

The Obama administration had foolishly hoped that with the recently completed and implemented sham nuclear weapons agreement on January 16, Iran would modify its behavior by becoming a more responsible member of the international community. They were sadly mistaken. The current belligerent attitude of Iran should come as no surprise. After all, they have been at war with the United States for over 36 years, starting with the takeover of our Tehran embassy in November 1979. Then came the bombing of our Beirut embassy and the U.S. Marine Barracks in 1983, plus a whole host of other terrorist actions that have caused the loss of life of thousands of American military and civilian personnel. All with no response from the world’s superpower.

Our non-response has been seen by the Iranian theocracy as an inherent weakness in our political leadership which has only emboldened Iran to carry out more aggressive actions. Therefore, it should not be surprising that it was Iran who provided the key material and training support to the Sept. 11, 2001 hijackers, which resulted in the death of 3,000 innocent Americans. Iran was found liable by Judge George Daniel’s New York district Court in December 2011.

However, the United States has never experienced anything quite like the Obama administration, whose Marxist agenda has included embracing our enemies while confusing our friends and allies, and in some cases, discarding them. This clearly has been reflected in our Middle East policies, which have been driven by President Obama’s obsession to conclude a nuclear weapons agreement with Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Mindboggling.

The genesis for this dramatic change in U.S. policy goes back to the summer of 2008 when Mr. Obama received the Democratic Party’s nomination for the presidency. He opened a secret communication channel to the Iranian theocracy and told them, according to the intermediary Ambassador William Miller, not to do a deal with the Bush administration. Wait until I am president, was Mr. Obama’s message, and you will get a much better deal. I am your friend.

This borders on treason.

The groveling by Mr. Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, to conclude the “sham” nuclear weapons “unsigned” agreement with the corrupt Iranian theocracy, has not only been humiliating for all Americans but has emboldened Iran to take more aggressive action to solidify their hegemony over the Middle East. Their alliance with Russia has ensured the survival of the Bashar Assad regime in Syria. Iran’s goal is to have the Iranian crescent stretch from Iran through Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. Their ultimate objective is to get control of the northeast oil fields of Saudi Arabia as well as of Islam’s two most holy sites, Mecca and Medina.

The administration’s recent moves to get more directly involved in the classic sectarian Sunni-Shiite conflict that has gone on for centuries makes no sense. It can only enhance Iran achieving its hegemonic objectives to the net disadvantage of our friends and allies in the region, including Israel. However, our continued failure to respond to Iran’s clear “acts of war” only emboldens Iranian arrogance.

James A. Lyons, a U.S. Navy retired admiral, was commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.

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