Yes, the United States faces an ideological foe ensconced in an apocalyptic version of Shia Islam. No, the United States does not need to rush headlong into another Mideast war that will only erode Trump’s political legitimacy at home and usher in another decade of American weakness abroad. As Victor Davis Hanson has written recently: the United States holds all of the cards in the conflict with Iran. As I have long advocated, the best approach to this ideological war against Iran is through containment, deterrence, and multilateralism — the same tools that the United States effectively used to defeat the Soviet Union’s global threat in the Cold War.
That’s why it’s strange that, at the same time that tensions with Iran are increasing, the Republican-controlled Senate has voted to terminate a vital arms deal with Saudi Arabia (on vacuous “moral” grounds). They want to invade Iran. But they want the United States to go it alone as we did in Iraq — thereby replicating the mistakes of the previous decade and hastening American decline (whether this is their true goal or not, this is what would happen).
The recent decision by President Trump not to retaliate for Iran’s idiotic attack on an expensive U.S. drone flying in international waters was a victory for the president’s foreign policy. He alone is walking the dangerous line between war and peace — and winning in the process. Ideological warfare is not necessarily kinetic. It requires other, non-kinetic tools of statecraft. More importantly, it requires alliances with states that are far more threatened by Iran than we are.