Stephens’ proposal, in particular, raises a question or two: Is there anybody in the world who doesn’t understand that the United States has a large and powerful military? Is there anybody who thinks this president, if sufficiently provoked, would hesitate to use that power? America doesn’t need to use its military to send a message we’re willing to use our military. Everybody already knows.
What would a strike at this point even accomplish? Mostly, it would kill the Iranians on board the boats and ships targeted by the United States — assuming the conflict didn’t escalate from there. Dozens or even hundreds of lives would be snuffed out as retribution for what, so far, have been acts of property damage. That would be immoral. Whether you believe in just war theory, or whether you simply believe we must have a darned good reason to make the deadly decision to commit forces to battle, the conclusion should be same: The stakes are too high — and the provocations at this point too small and limited — to justify war against Iran.