First and most importantly, Washington needs to move beyond just a U.S. versus Iran confrontation and make it a world versus Iran scenario. There is no global support for attacks on unarmed merchant ships, especially environmentally sensitive supertankers. Attacks on the supply chain for oil and petrochemicals will antagonize everyone.
Second, the U.S. should try to rebuild the anti-Iran coalition to include, most importantly, our European partners and Japan, many of whom dropped support when the Trump administration left the nuclear pact. Confronting Iran must be a team sport.
The U.S. should also use its full interagency power to pressure Iran. Sanctions are good and useful at this point, but Washington can add more to the equation by bringing offensive cyber-capability from the National Security Agency and Cyber Command. The intelligence community can partner with other regional players — notably Israel and Saudi Arabia — to unwind Iranian intentions and plots.
A third key element to counter an Iranian strategy that targets tankers is to work with the private sector, including the big shipping companies (disclosure: I am on the board of Onassis, the Greek shipping company).