The cornerstone of any functional strategy with Iran rests on one question for President Trump and the Ayatollah.

Iran has set the Middle East is on fire and it is time all Americans take notice.  Americans may believe this fire half way around the world is none of our concern. This would be a grave mistake.

For far too long Americans have wrongly relied on our geography, military, intelligence, electronic eavesdropping capabilities, and once robust economy as adequate defenses against Iran.  Since 1979, ten U.S. administrations have failed to develop a functional strategy to confront and contain the radical Iranian regime and their aggressive operations in the Middle East.  These failures have allowed the once small band of radical clerics and college thugs to develop into the major brokers of terror throughout the Middle East and the world.

Each American administration in the last 39 years has based their diplomatic strategy for Iran upon hope.   Jimmy Carter hoped the embassy hostages would be released by negotiations.

Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush hoped they could trade arms for hostages.  Bill Clinton hoped that an apology and an offer to open up an official dialogue would be enough to normalize relations with the Ayatollah and his radical Islamic regime.  George W. Bush hoped that he could intimidate Iran into cooperation with his infamous “axis of evil” speech and the War on Terror in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Ironically, the argument can be made that the real winner of the War on Terror has been Iran.  This is indefensible given that Iran is the leading sponsor of terrorism throughout the world.  The power Iran wields in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, along with their increasing influence and aggressiveness throughout the Middle East supports this contention.

The last American administration was so hopeful in developing the appearance of a functional strategy for Iran that it willingly and consciously ignored Iran’s terrorist nature during negotiations of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).  In 2015, President Obama declared that, “After two years of negotiations, we have achieved a detailed arrangement that permanently prohibits Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”  Yet, Iran did not sign this “arrangement.”  

President Obama stated the JCPOA, “ . . . cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb.”  However, Iran doesn’t acknowledge this prohibition. President Obama further claimed that the JCPOA, “ . . . contains the most comprehensive inspection and verification regime ever negotiated to monitor a nuclear program.”  Unfortunately, the Ayatollah’s radical Iranian regime declared, unilaterally, certain sites are “excluded” and “off limits” for both the scheduled and surprise “comprehensive inspections.”  

In fact, the passage of the JCPOA was so important to the Obama administration that it secretly attempted to purchase Iran’s cooperation.  The exact same day Iran formally implemented the nuclear deal President Obama secretly approved, and had delivered, $400 million dollars that was flown into Tehran late at night on wooden pallets stacked with Swiss francs, euros, and other currencies.

Simultaneously, the Obama White House unfroze nearly $150 billion dollars of Iranian assets as part of the nuclear deal. This is actually enough money to purchase all 32 teams in the NFL and still have an additional $50 billion dollars left over to add at least another 18 teams.

The magnitude of this diplomatic bribe was exceeded only by its failure.  Not even this tremendous amount of money could purchase the Ayatollah’s cooperation or commitment in adhering to the JCPOA.  Iran still pursues its strategy of “burning and turning” the Middle East.

President Trump now has an important decision to make regarding the JCPOA.  He can renew this flawed and fallacious agreement and hope, as President Obama did, that Iran will abide by its terms.  Or President Trump can ask the Ayatollah, publicly, a very simple question.  Is Iran still committed to Islamic jihad against America?

The Ayatollah’s response to this question will reveal the true nature, strategy, and intent of the radical Iranian regime.  The Ayatollah’s strategy towards America, the European Union, and other Middle East nations is based upon violence, vengeance, and viciousness.  Under the cover of surrogate organizations Iran has exploited and controls the governments of Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen.

Iran has a bold and clear strategy for the Middle East.   America has none.  Iran is actively developing an “Iranian Crescent” around the Arabian Gulf.  America has no clear strategy to prevent them from doing this or provide stability in this region.  Iran is attempting to build a path all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.  America’s lack of a functional strategy is enabling them.

The Ayatollah’s radical Iranian regime is growing stronger.  In fact, just last week Iranian surrogates in Yemen fired 7 ballistic missiles into the civilian areas of Riyadh and other Saudi cities.   Given that Iran continues to follow a strategy of Islamic jihad against the U.S. and its allies, President Trump is not the unreasonable character that threatens peace and stability in the Middle East.  The mainstream media has this wrong. The culprit is the Ayatollah and Iran.

America and the world can ill afford to wait any longer in confronting and containing the radical Iranian regime.  Americans must decide now whether it will be this generation or the next that will stand up to Iranian aggression.  Failure to stand against the Ayatollah and his radical Iranian regime today means that we will be leaving a more powerful enemy and a more dangerous crisis for our children and future generations of Americans.  This would be nothing short of cowardly.

The quality of life in America, the quality of life for our children, and even the survival of our country and culture depend on our understanding of the nature of the enemy before us.  Now is the time for the development of a functional strategy to deal with Iran, their evil surrogates, and all of their Middle East aspirations.

President Trump’s leadership in the recent development of a U.S., Saudi, and U.A.E. triad is a very strong beginning.  This triad, properly focused, is certain to be able to deal with Iran, their evil ideologies, and surrogate groups diplomatically, economically, and militarily if necessary.  The appointment of John Bolton as the new national security adviser is certainly another positive step.

On the Presidential Seal there are 13 olive branches and leaves in the right claw of the eagle.  These represent following a path of peace and diplomacy.  In the left claw there are 13 arrows.  These represent the military force, action, and will that is needed to defend America when peace and diplomacy fail.  The eagle faces to its right because the path of peace and diplomacy is the responsible one to pursue first, whenever possible and pragmatic.  But how can President Trump pursue a path of peace and diplomacy with an enemy that has declared, for nearly 40 years, that they are actively pursuinga holy war intent on America’s destruction through instability and unrest in the Middle East?  He cannot.

Albert Einstein once said, “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who won’t do anything about it.”

Now is the time for America to stand together and do something about the evil Iranian regime.  The time for unfounded hope is past. It is time to act.  We must reject the JCPOA and confront and contain Iran on every quarter until they renounce their Islamic jihad strategy or we defeat them with it.  Whether we use olive branches or arrows, all Americans need to be prepared to support President Trump and finally defeat Iran’s Islamic jihad and expansionist aspirations.

Kenneth Stethem is the CEO of Aegis Industries, LLC. He is also a retired Navy SEAL and Senior Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technician. He is also the brother of SW2 (DV) Robert Dean Stethem, the Seabee diver that was killed in Beirut, Lebanon during the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in June 1985.