The first takeaway one gets from the order, announced recently by the White House, to send the Abraham Lincoln carrier task force and a bomber group to the Middle East to confront potential Iranian aggression is to observe, what a difference a change of administration makes.
The Trump administration’s Iran policy is as different from Obama’s as Churchill’s Nazi Germany policy was to Chamberlain.
Apparently, the Trump administration has received intelligence that the Iranians are contemplating launching an attack on American interests in the Middle East, either through proxy forces or directly.
The dispatch of extra military forces to the region is meant to drive home the folly of such a move.
The Iranian theocratic regime will be held responsible for any attack and will be dealt with accordingly. Hopefully, the Iranian government will get the message and will stand down.
Iran has been a problem country ever since the Shah was chased out of the country by religious zealots 40 years ago.
The new government sparked the Iranian Hostage Crisis when it took American diplomats as prisoners, helping to undermine and bring an end to the Carter presidency.
Currently, Iran is making trouble by backing terrorism, providing troops for Russian colonial ambitions in Syria and Venezuela, and developing a nuclear and missile arsenal with which it means to attack its enemies, including Israel and the United States.
Up until the Obama administration, American policy toward Iran had been of opposition to the regime to one degree or another.
President Obama tried a different approach, which can best be described as appeasement.
He signed an ill-considered nuclear weapons agreement with the Tehran regime.
The Obama administration flew in planeloads of cash, money that had been held since the hostage crisis, as a sweetener.
The underlining reasons for Obama’s softer approach are not clear.
Some have speculated that the former president desired to “open up” Iran the same way President Nixon did China.
He may have dreamed of a state visit to Tehran, followed by the reestablishment of diplomatic relations.
The dream was folly on a number of levels.
President Trump’s policy toward Iran has been a sterner, more realistic one.
Besides withdrawing from the nuclear agreement, it has tightened economic sanctions on Tehran.
One sanction Trump has reimposed was the right for Tehran to enrich uranium, ostensibly for nuclear fuel.
The problem is that the same process could be used to make bomb grade uranium. Trump has closed that loophole, much to the anger of the Tehran regime.
The economic sanctions have started to bite, hobbling Tehran’s ability to finance terrorism and conduct a military buildup.
Whatever covert action the Trump administration is conducting against the Iranian government is not publicly known, but it would be a great surprise if such were not being undertaken.
Most of the Iranian people are restive, desiring to live in a normal country with access to the outside world and the ability of its citizens to live ordinary lives.
The regime conducts savage repression based on its understanding of Islamic law, hanging gay people from construction cranes and threatening to whip young people to death for making a music video.
Some Iranians have responded with demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience.
One way the Iranian government could respond would be to attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which much of the oil supply from the Arab gulf states passed.
When the Tehran regime attempted closing the strait in 1987, United States naval vessels escorted tankers until they were clear of the range of Iranian influence.
The United States Navy destroyed an Iranian naval base located on an offshore oil platform when a tanker was hit by an Iranian silkworm missile.
An Iranian attempt to close the oil routes would not succeed and would likely cause great harm to its military establishment.
However, the resulting conflict would cause a spike in the price of oil which in turn would damage the American economy, currently enjoying an economic boom.
How much damage that a conflict in the Persian Gulf would cause largely depends on how long it lasts and how much alternate supplies of oil and gas can be accessed.
The Iranian threat will not end unless and until regime change occurs.
How that could happen is a matter than can only be speculated about.