Could Iran get any bolder? It seems absolutely bent on starting a war.
On Monday Iran finished off 10 days of naval exercises in international waters near the Strait of Hormuz. In the midst of those war games, Iran’s political and military leaders threatened to retaliate against sanctions by shutting down the strait. It also came to light that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards plan to sow Hormuz with mines.
Hormuz ships over a third of the globe’s seaborne oil. It’s the world’s most crucial oil transit channel. In a world that needs oil to survive, this is no small provocation.
“If the world wants to make the region insecure, we will make the world insecure,” one Iranian lawmaker said. Another followed up, “America should know that the world’s energy gullet, that is to say, the Strait of Hormuz, is in our hands.”
The U.S. responded gamely: by sending an aircraft carrier and its strike group from the Persian Gulf, through the strait and into the Gulf of Oman, the area of Iran’s maneuvers. It said, though, that the movement was pre-planned.
Iran struck back by actually closing Hormuz—for five hours.
This past Saturday morning, Iran’s state agencies “reported” that the naval drills would include some long-range missile tests, and Iran closed its territorial waters. “For five hours Saturday, not a single warship, merchant vessel or oil tanker ventured into the 30-mile-wide Hormuz Strait, waiting to hear from Tehran that the test was over,” debkafile wrote. Later that morning Iran’s navy said it hadn’t fired any missiles after all. “Tehran had demonstrated by this ruse that it could close the vital waterway for hours or days at any moment” (ibid).
If that wasn’t confrontational enough, yesterday Iran upped the ante. The head of the armed forces said Iran would take action if America’s aircraft carrier returned back to its Persian Gulf base. “I advise, recommend and warn them (the Americans) over the return of this carrier to the Persian Gulf because we are not in the habit of warning more than once,” Maj. Gen. Ataollah Salehi said.
The U.S. said it would ignore the threat and intends to stay in the Gulf. It essentially brushed aside Iran’s action, as if they are of no consequence. When asked if it would send more ships to reinforce the area, the Pentagon said, “No one in this government seeks confrontation over the Strait of Hormuz. It’s important to lower the temperature.”
Iran clearly disagrees. It seeks confrontation, and it keeps raising the temperature.
But “lower the temperature” has long been America’s approach to Iran’s pushiness. Downplay the danger. Let Iran sow mines in Hormuz—we can clean them out within 48 hours, Washington says. This threat against our aircraft carrier proves that our economic pressure is working. That’s how the White House sees it. The Iranians “are feeling increasingly isolated and they are trying to divert the attention of their own public from the difficulties inside Iran, including the economic difficulties as a result of sanctions,” the State Department said yesterday.
No matter the provocation, essentially this is America’s response. It shrugs its shoulders when a drone crashes in Iran and the mullahs keep it. It ignores Iran’s presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, killing American soldiers. It disregards Iran’s terrorist ties to al Qaeda, and even its complicity behind 9/11. It pretends the nuclear threat is years off. Iran is all talk. All rhetoric. All bluster.
Granted, there is some truth in that. Iran is a classic study in what Hans Morgenthau called the policy of bluff, trumpeting and exaggerating what power it has in order to punch above its weight.
However, to simply dismiss Iran is a gross error. Three points must be mentioned.
One: Exaggerated though its own claims may be, Iran’s power is real, substantial, and growing. It continues to make strides in its armaments, including nuclear technology. Its web of terrorist activities throughout the region and beyond is strong and getting stronger. America’s withdrawal gives it freer course in Iraq. The rise of radical Islamist forces throughout the Middle East bolsters its position.
It’s not without reason that Iran is tightening its grip on Hormuz right now. With Islamist governments gaining control of Egypt and Libya, not to mention Eritrea and Yemen, Iran’s influence over the north and south entrances of the Red Sea is increasing. Its emerging ability to control oil flow through these choke points could cripple the economically fragile West.
Two: Iran’s bravado has exposed America’s broken will. Iran’s provocations have been far more than rhetoric. It has been at war with America, actively, for over a decade. In dramatic fashion before the whole world, it has defied the U.S. and flaunted America’s weakness.
Three, and most important: This pushiness is leading to war. The weakness in the West’s response has given Iran room to push harder and harder. Sanctions will not do the job. Nothing will stop Iran short of war!
As longtime Trumpet readers are well aware, the pushiness in Iran’s foreign policy was specifically prophesied in Scripture.
One end-time biblical prophecy the Trumpet has pointed to consistently over the past two decades speaks of an Iranian-led radical Islamic power, “the king of the south.” What will it do? “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him ….”
Way back in one of the earliest Trumpet editions—September/October 1990—editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote about this verse: “The Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament says the word push means ‘to strike—used of horned animals,’ or, ‘to push with the horn.’ It is ‘used figuratively of a victor who prostrates the nations before him.’ It also means, ‘to wage war with anyone.’ Push is a violent word!”
That is the verb prophecy uses to define the power we currently see threatening oil routes, openly confronting the world’s most powerful navy, launching missiles and building nukes.
Iran’s prophesied push has already started. America isn’t going to stop it. Just watch. It’s going to keep getting more provocative, more aggressive, more volatile and violent.
Until it ends in war. •