The U.S. Needs a Strategy for Countering Iranian Aggression at Sea

On May 26, Greece—at the behest of the U.S. and EU—seized an Iranian tanker suspected of violating sanctions on the Islamic Republic’s oil exports. Tehran retaliated the next day by seizing two Greek tankers in the Persian Gulf. Herman Shelanski, Ari Cicurel, and Andrew Ghalili examine the incident’s implications:

Iran did what it always does when facing limited, merely economic pressure—it ramped up its own counterpressure; . . . whenever the United States has responded to Iranian malign activity with sanctions alone, or even limited use of force, Tehran sees a green light to escalate.

So far, Iran’s counterpressure strategy has largely succeeded. While President Joe Biden ordered airstrikes in Syria in February 2021 and again in Syria and Iraq in June 2021, in retaliation for attacks on U.S. personnel, Iranian-backed Shiite militias further escalated shortly afterward with no U.S. follow-up. This is not surprising, as decades of U.S. interactions with Iran show that only when Tehran perceives a threat of military action in response to each attack can its leadership be compelled to abandon regional aggression.

Without the backing of credible military options, U.S. efforts to bolster sanctions enforcement encourage further Iranian tit-for-tat counterpressure, especially at the negotiating table. Meanwhile, during the protracted, open-ended nuclear negotiations, Iran continues funding its proxies and regional aggression. A more assertive approach that both enforces existing sanctions and boosts military readiness, offers the best prospects for reducing instability.

What the United States urgently needs and has lacked is a comprehensive Plan B strategy, where the administration declares a “Biden Doctrine.” This strategy should state that the United States will use all elements of national power, including rigorous sanctions enforcement and military force, to defend vital interests in the Middle East, with the highest priority being preventing a nuclear Iran.

Read more at National Interest

More about: Greece, Iran, Naval strategy, Oil, U.S. Foreign policy


Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University