Jim Hanson: US should attack Iran militarily to retaliate for downing of American drone

It’s time for the U.S. to take military action against Iran – not to start a war, but to blow some things up in retaliation for Iran shooting down a U.S. surveillance drone Thursday in international air space, just days after setting off explosives that damaged two oil tankers.

President Trump gave Iran a pass after the recent tanker attacks. But instead of reassessing their strategy and trying to de-escalate tensions, the Iranians escalated significantly by shooting down the American drone – a high-flying unmanned aircraft that costs about $130 million.

I don’t see how President Trump can let Iran’s latest attack pass without action if he expects Iran and other nations to respect the U.S. and not conclude they can attack our forces at will, without fear of retaliation.

TRUMP SAYS IRAN’S US DRONE SHOOT-DOWN MAY HAVE BEEN ‘MISTAKE,’ BUT ‘COUNTRY WILL NOT STAND FOR IT’

Iran’s leaders have been slowly raising the stakes in provocations to see what they can get away with. President Trump needs to set boundaries and make clear that Iran does not have a free hand to do whatever it wants.

Discussing the downing of the U.S. drone, Trump told reporters Thursday that “this country will not stand for it, that I can tell you.”

“They made a very big mistake,” the president said of the Iranians, as he met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “I find it hard to believe it was intentional, and it could have been someone who was loose and stupid.”

Iran acknowledged its attack on the U.S. drone, claiming the drone had entered Iranian airspace. U.S. officials denied that, saying the drone was outside of Iran’s airspace.

In just the past few weeks, Iran has attacked six oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, according to U.S. officials, fired once at a U.S. drone and missed – and now has shot down an American drone.

Despite overwhelming evidence – including a video showing Iranian forces removing an unexploded mine from one tanker – Iran makes the unbelievable claim that it did not attack the oil tankers.

Meanwhile, the Houthi rebels backed by Iran in Yemen shot down a U.S. drone recently and have hit several targets in Saudi Arabia with cruise missiles, including an airport terminal.

It’s important for the U.S. to ensure free passage of ships in the Gulf of Oman, a major route for oil exports from Saudi Arabia and others nations. Iran has threatened in the past to block the Gulf at the narrow Strait of Hormuz.

But even more importantly, the U.S. must send a strong and unmistakable message to all nations who bear us ill will that shooting down a U.S. military aircraft is never acceptable – and will bring about retaliation that will make the aggressor nation live to regret its attack.

So where do we go from here?

Continued tough talk by President Trump – and even more U.S. economic sanctions – are not enough. A good step that would be far short of launching a war would be for U.S. forces to use precision missiles to destroy some naval forces of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Then the U.S. Treasury Department should sanction everyone left in the Iranian regime who hasn’t been targeted until now, and work on shutting off Iran’s access to financial markets and banking systems.

We should lay down a marker to financial institutions around the world telling them that if they work with Iran they can’t work with the U.S.

Unfortunately, past U.S. presidents have let Iran get away with far too much hostile activity. While President George W. Bush was in office, Iran supplied improvised explosive devices to terrorists in Iraq. The IEDs killed approximately 1,000 U.S. troops – and yet the U.S. took no action at all against Iran in response.

This is just one example of how Iran has been getting a pass for far too long for its support of terrorist groups attacking U.S. forces, Israel and other American allies. Iran has also supported other terrorist forces and supports brutal dictator Bashar Assad in the Syrian civil war.

And despite the deeply flawed nuclear deal that former President Barack Obama unwisely signed – and that President Trump wisely withdrew from – Iran has repeatedly threatened that it would resume its nuclear weapons development if provoked.

Iran’s message to the world seems to be to say that its leaders are wild-eyed fanatics who will take crazy military actions if provoked – so everyone needs to back off and not even think about attacking the nation.

President Obama was clearly scared off by the Iranians. He embraced a policy of weakness that excused any malicious activity by the Islamic Republic to make sure he got his nuclear deal at any price.

But even more importantly, the U.S. must send a strong and unmistakable message to all nations who bear us ill will that shooting down a U.S. military aircraft is never acceptable – and will bring about retaliation that will make the aggressor nation live to regret it’s attack.

Never mind that even if the Iranians had honored the deal completely, they would have seen their nuclear ambitions delayed for only a few years. Obama wanted to go down in the history books for a nuclear deal that he falsely hyped as a monumental achievement.

To get his flawed deal, Obama gave the Iranians billions of dollars that they have been using to finance ballistic missiles and their terror spree. And the lifting of international economic sanctions on Iran with the signing of the nuclear deal strengthened the nation’s ability to finance terrorism and other military adventures.

Now President Trump is demanding that other nations join the U.S. in imposing tough economic sanctions on Iran. Desperate to avert major economic damage to their nation, Iranian leaders are ramping up their military activity to once again scare off the U.S. and other nations from acting against them.

President Trump has made it clear that he wants to try to negotiate a new nuclear deal with Iran. That is a long shot, but it will be a lost cause if the Iranians believe they can get away with anything. That was Obama’s mistake. The Iranians took huge advantage of him and won massive concessions.

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In a May 8 statement, President Trump described the Iran nuclear deal this way: “WORST DEAL EVER NEGOTIATED: The Iran deal was a disastrous one-sided deal that failed to end Iran’s nuclear program and the full range of the regime’s malign activity.”

If Trump wants to do better – and we all should want him to – he has to deal with Iran from a position of strength. The mullahs who rule Iran have thrown down a gauntlet and are trying to embarrass the United States and make us look weak. We are not weak – and it’s time the leaders of Iran learned that the hard way.

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Sanders rips Trump over escalating tensions with Iran, says war would be ‘disaster’

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday took aim at President Trump over the rising tensions between the United States and Iran, warning on Memorial Day that a military confrontation between the two countries would be more disastrous than the Iraq war.

At a speech in Warner — the Democratic presidential candidate’s first stop in a two-day swing through the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire — Sanders said that during his decades in Congress, ”I think perhaps the most important vote that I have ever cast was against the war in Iraq.”

SANDERS TAKES AIM AT BIDEN OVER FUNDRAISERS

“Right now if you can believe it, Trump and his people in his administration apparently have learned nothing from that horrific war in Iraq,” Sanders said. “And you have (national security adviser) John Bolton and others talking about the need to go to war in Iran.”

Sanders, who is making his second straight bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, said, “If you think the war in Iraq was a disaster, my strong belief is a war with Iran would be much worse…Not only would a war with Iran be a disaster, it happens to be unconstitutional.”

Sanders made similar comments at a large rally in Vermont on Saturday.

The Trump administration has been ringing alarms the past month over what it calls “troubling” and “escalatory” moves by Iran. The U.S. has been raising the volume on Iran ever since the president took the country out of a multilateral nuclear deal with Iran a year ago.

Trump has spent weeks alternating between tough talk towards Tehran while still insisting he’s open to negotiating with the Islamic republic. On Friday, the president told reporters before departing on a trip to Japan that “we’re going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective.”

On Monday, during a news conference with the Japanese prime minister, Trump highlighted his administration’s efforts at diplomacy, saying “I really believe that Iran would like to make a deal, and I think that’s very smart of them, and I think that’s a possibility to happen.”

PACE OF BIDEN’S 2020 CAMPAIGN QUESTIONED

Sanders’ spotlighting of his vote against the Iraq war also appears to be a subtle dig against former Vice President Joe Biden, the clear front-runner right now in the latest national polls in the Democratic nomination race, as well as many of the most recent surveys in the crucial early voting primary and caucus states of New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina.

Then-Sen. Biden of Delaware voted in favor of the Iraq War in 2002.

“Joe voted for the war in Iraq. I led the effort against it,” Sanders said earlier this month in an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.”

An optimistic Sanders told the crowd – estimated at 600 by his campaign – “I believe we stand a very good chance of winning in Iowa and with your help, we can win here in New Hampshire. And if we win here in New Hampshire, I think the path is very good.”

Sanders crushed Hillary Clinton by more than 20 percentage points in New Hampshire’s 2016 Democratic presidential primary. The victory sent the one-time longshot candidate into a marathon battle with Clinton, the eventual nominee. Because of that victory, and the continuing strong organization in the state of his supporters, New Hampshire’s considered a must win for Sanders.

The candidate also said “we’re doing much better in South Carolina and we’re going to do well in Nevada as well. And we’re strong in California. So if we can win those states, I think we have a very strong path to victory.”

And he highlighted that “virtually every poll that I have seen has us defeating Donald Trump and in many of the battleground states, beating him by pretty big numbers.”

But those same very early hypothetical 2020 general election matchups also indicate Biden topping Trump by a healthy advantage.

Sanders was introduced by Ben Cohen, the co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream who was a top supporter and surrogate of Sanders’ 2016 bid and who’s once again a national co-chair of the campaign.

“Before Bernie, Jerry and I used the be the most famous guys in Vermont,” Cohen joked.

Turning more serious, he called the nation’s capital “the cesspool of what is our political system today. With our help, with all of us, it’s Bernie who will be able to finally flush the crap down the drain.”

Ben and Jerry’s ice cream was served to the crowd gathered in an outdoor amphitheater style setting in this small central New Hampshire community.

The Republican National Committee took aim at the candidate saying “while Bernie Sanders dishes up ice cream today, it’s important to remember that what he’s proposing isn’t so sweet.”

“Bernie may hope voters find his agenda to be sweet, but to Granite Staters, it’s nothing but sour,” RNC spokesperson Nina McLaughlin highlighted.

Scott Wallace, a veteran from South Newbury, New Hampshire backed Sanders in 2016 and he told Fox News he’s supporting the candidate once again.

“He’s consistent, he’s been right on almost every issue since he joined Congress,” he explained.

While plenty of other rivals in the historically large field of nearly two-dozen Democratic White House hopefuls are pushing the same progressive agenda Sanders first championed in his 2016 run, Wallace said “I’m going with the original.”

Susan Reynolds of Concord was also in the audience.

Reynolds, who backed Clinton in 2016, said she’s undecided this time around but gave up part of her holiday weekend because she “was interested to hear what he had to say.

“He’s one of my top four,” she noted, along with Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.