- - Thursday, September 17, 2020

When it comes to malevolent motives and behavior, Iran is the quintessential example of an outlaw state given to terror, nuclear proliferation and human rights atrocities.

Such a state, you would think, should draw the unrestrained condemnation of civilized nations everywhere, but in reality, even European states to this day are seeking ways to reconnect with Iran for economic benefit. Nevertheless, support for Iran by the likes of China, Russia and North Korea says all we need to know about the Iranian regime. They are evil.  

There is no limit to the depth they will stoop to remain an international pariah. Fortunately, President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are not amused  by Iran’s antics and have been relentless in pressing Tehran to abandon its unacceptable behavior. 

There is a profound difference in the ways that American administrations have handled the relationship with Iran that bears serious examination — even now — as we head to the polls to vote to either reelect Mr. Trump or replace him with former Vice President Joe Biden. The implications of that decision — our vote — for both America and Iran are profound.

Consider the posture of the administration of President Obama and Vice President Biden with Iran. In a fashion, Mr. Obama — and his sidekick Mr. Biden — repeatedly genuflected to Iran’s terror-mullahs, as they did toward other Middle Eastern potentates, obsequiously apologizing for America’s past foreign policies.  The Obama-Biden administration mollycoddled Iran’s leadership ab ovo, refusing to stand with the Iranian people when they revolted against the government’s oppression and election fraud during the June 2009 “Green Revolution.”   

While the head of Iran’s terror arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Qassem Soleimani, actively engaged in killing American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Obama-Biden team did nothing to rein him in. Our troops deserved better than that.

Indeed, eager to secure the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a nuclear arrangement that the Obama administration openly declared would be its “legacy,” the Obama-Biden sellout deal was sealed by delivering a pallet of $400 million to the terror-mullahs under the cover of darkness. Days later, tthe administration forked over another $1.3 billion in interest payments. It was singularly a shameful and demeaning bow by a great power to people who should not have power. The result? America agreed to a nuclear deal that was at best feckless and at worst an enabler of Iranian nuclear proliferation. That is the Obama legacy in Iran.   

On the other hand, consider Mr. Trump’s response to Iran. He ended the Iran nuclear agreement that the president knew was a bad deal and one that was totally unverifiable. When Iran shot down a U.S. drone aircraft in June 2019, the president surged military forces into the Persian Gulf region, yet was coolheaded in not overreacting.

Harkening back to President Teddy Roosevelt’s example, America spoke softly and carried a big stick. Yet when the time was right and the circumstances justified it, Mr. Trump wielded that stick with a resounding thump as American drones targeted and killed terror wizard Soleimani in January 2020. Moreover, Mr. Trump has been unhesitating and resolute in applying punishing sanctions on Iran for its continued acts of terror in the world. To be sure, the president has been tougher on Iran than any other world leader and, unlike the facile actions of the Obama-Biden administration, right in doing so.

Iran has never been so firmly handled by the U.S. as it has been by Mr. Trump. Iran is looking for revenge and was recently caught red-handed plotting to kill the U.S. ambassador to South Africa, a plan that was actually put in motion by Soleimani who himself has been dispatched from the face of the Earth by American military power.  

If the terror-mullahs had a vote this November, it would be for a presidential candidate who would willingly and naively return to the days when Iran held sway in its relationship with Washington. In that regard, the 2020 presidential contest may be the most significant political decision Americans will make in a generation.  Before us is a simple proposition with complex implications for America’s national interests.  

Will we vote for a president who will stand firm against the forces of evil or one who will send them cash on a pallet in the middle of the night? Will we vote for a president who will not suffer the murder of U.S. soldiers at the hands of terrorists or a president who will reach readily to embrace those bloody hands? And will we vote for a president who will not hesitate to bring Iran to its knees if that is required or one who kneels before them. President Trump has been a nightmare for Iran’s dictators. Joe Biden would be a terror-mullah’s dream come true.  

• L. Scott Lingamfelter is a retired Army colonel, former Virginia state legislator and author of “Desert Redleg: Artillery Warfare in the First Gulf War,” published by University Press of Kentucky and the Association of the U.S. Army.

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