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credit: US Navy, 5th Fleet

It is little known we have been in a state of war with Iran since 1979.  We did not declare war; the Iranian theocratic regime did, and has never rescinded that declaration.  “Death to America” is not merely a political slogan, but a religious goal.  Iran has since engaged in a proxy war against us, a war to which various American presidents have occasionally responded, but seldom as though we were fighting a war.   The war began with the taking of American hostages for 444 days, ending only with the election of Ronald Reagan.  Eight Americans were killed and four injured in the abortive Operation Eagle Claw on 04-24/25-80, when Delta Force tried to rescue the hostages, but failed.  This began a long line of American deaths due to direct or indirect Iranian action, action spurred by apparent American weakness.  Just a few significant facts:  

*1983: the Marine Barracks bombing in Beirut killed 241 Americans.

*1996: Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia killed 19 Americans and wounded 372.

*2000-2001: Iran directly supported the 9/11 hijackers, killing nearly 3000 and injuring more than 6000.

*2016: Iran seized two American naval vessels and held 10 sailors hostage.

* The Pentagon estimates more than 600 Americans were killed by Iranian proxies using Iranian manufactured and supplied weapons, about 17% of American deaths in Iraq.  The number is almost certainly higher, and many more have been wounded.

By various estimates, hundreds more Americans have been injured or killed, primarily by Iranian proxies, but always at the direction of Iran.  Harassment of American naval vessels in the Persian Gulf has been constant.

On June 21, 2019, President Trump called off, at the last minute, an attack on Iran in retaliation for the shooting down of an American surveillance drone.

On January 3, 2020, President Trump ordered a drone strike on Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s point man in the war against America, a murderer awash in the blood of Americans and our allies.  In response, Iran launched a missile attack against an American installation in the Middle East, and on January 9, apparently in a panic, shot down a Ukrainian airliner over Iran, killing 176.

Iran has continued to play a deadly game of chicken.  President Trump has, at long last, called their bluff:

President Trump said Wednesday that he’s instructed the U.S. Navy to ‘shoot down and destroy; any Iranian gunboats harassing American ships, in the wake of a tense encounter in the Persian Gulf.

‘I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea,’ Trump tweeted.

Various pundits have scoffed that one doesn’t shoot down boats, but Iran also uses drones and manned aircraft against us.  I suspect it was to this the President was, in part, referring.

credit: US Navy

The encounter happened last week. Six U.S. Navy warships were conducting drills with US Army Apache attack helicopters in international waters off Iran last Wednesday when they were repeatedly harassed by 11 Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Navy vessels, the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet reported.

The Iranian ships repeatedly crossed in front and behind the U.S. vessels at extremely close range and high speeds, including multiple crossings of one ship, the Puller, with a 50-yard closest point of approach and within 10 yards of another ship, the Maui’s, bow, a 5th Fleet statement said.

Considering the Iranians carry RPGs, various other missiles, and have always supported the use of bomb-laden vessels, it might be a good idea to keep them a long way from any American ship.

The U.S. crews responded by issuing multiple warnings via radio—including five short blasts from the ships’ horns and long-grange acoustic noise maker devices, but received no response from the IRGCN, the Navy’s 5th Fleet said in a statement.

After approximately an hour, the Iranian vessels responded to the radio queries, before maneuvering away from the U.S. ships and increasing the distance between them, according to the Navy.

The Navy said that the Iranian’s dangerous and provocative actions ‘increased the risk of miscalculation and collision’ and were in violation of international maritime ‘rules of the road.’ The Navy also said they were not in accordance with international law to act safely with other vessels in the area.

This is significant:

The incident last week came one day after Iranian gunmen stormed a Hong Kong-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz before quickly leaving when they learned the vessel was from China.

Did they leave because China is their ally against America, because they fear China, or both?

The president’s directive also comes several months after hostilities between the U.S. and Iran, which included an attack at the U.S. Embassy compound in Iraq that U.S. officials blamed on Iran.

In response, the U.S. carried out a strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Also, earlier this month, the president sent a stark warning to Iran, after claiming that Iran was planning a ‘sneak attack’ on U.S. troops in Iraq. [skip]

Sources told Fox News earlier this month that the U.S. believes Iranian-backed proxies were planning the sneak attack, and that Trump’s tweet was a warning to the Iranian leadership to tell their proxies to back down or face consequences.

One would hope so.  One would also hope Mr. Trump isn’t kidding.

But we can’t do that!  Trump is a madman!  He’s going to get us into World War III!

We’re already at war with Iran, and thus far, in numbers of casualties, they’re winning.  Never have the mullahs been more vulnerable, and anything we can do to hasten their downfall will be good not only for the Iranian people, who by and large like America, but for the Middle East and the world.

It’s hard to make the case we should allow a hostile military force within easy weapons range of our warships operating in international waters, but Mr. Trump’s enemies are already trying to make it.  It’s long past time America took the insane Iranian leader’s screams of “Death to America” seriously and act accordingly.  It’s better than sending them billions in cash in the dead of night and winking at their never-ending attempts to build nuclear weapons.