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If Biden Wants to Stop a Wider War, He Should Ready a Strike on Iran

President Joe Biden gave a momentous speech on Tuesday, one that will undoubtedly resonate in Israeli history as one of the most profound pro-Israel addresses by a sitting president.

In his remarks, Biden showed what unwavering support for Israel looks like, making it unequivocally clear that there is no moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas. Biden emphasized that the State of Israel not only possesses the right but also bears a moral obligation to combat Hamas and dismantle its ruthless terrorist infrastructure.

During his address, Biden spoke about the deployment of U.S. navy warships to the eastern Mediterranean. He underscored the U.S. commitment to ensuring that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) remain well-equipped with smart bomb kits, artillery shells, and Iron Dome interceptors to secure victory in the ongoing conflict. Furthermore, he issued a stern warning to Hezbollah in Lebanon and a resounding message to any terrorist organization or nation contemplating an attack on Israel: “Don’t.”

While this is significant, there are two more steps that Biden can take to change the trajectory of the Middle East for years to come. The first step would be to change the destination of the carrier strike group, which includes the USS Gerald R. Ford. Instead of dispatching it to the eastern Mediterranean, Biden should send it to the Persian Gulf and park the strike group there, just a few miles off the Iranian coast.

In addition, he should dispatch several F-22 Raptor fighter jet squadrons to the region and park one in Israel while sending B-52 strategic bombers from their bases in Louisiana and North Dakota to fly nonstop over the region.

Such a military presence would constitute the largest American force buildup in the region since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The second step would be for Biden to give an address to the nation—similar to the one that he gave on Tuesday—and issue a direct warning not to Hezbollah, but to Iran.

It would be a simple speech explaining that if Hezbollah or Iran launch an attack against Israel, America will retaliate not against Beirut but in Iran. One of the missiles, he could add, would be launched at the home of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei alongside hundreds of more Tomahawk missiles that will destroy the Iranian military, nuclear facilities, and key infrastructure.

Skeptics will say that this approach is implausible. Biden, these skeptics would argue, has no interest in a military confrontation with Iran, and prefers appeasement and cash payments.

That might have been true but the Hamas massacre in Israel has given the U.S. an opportunity to pivot. By butchering children, beheading soldiers, raping women, and abducting Holocaust survivors, Hamas showed the world the true face of Islamic extremism which is first and foremost led by Iran.

As The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week, Iran played a substantial role in assisting Hamas in planning its attacks against Israel, aiding in air, land, and sea incursions.

That report was not a surprise. Alongside its nuclear program, Iran is the greatest state sponsor of terrorism and has spent years cultivating an army of non-state actors throughout the Middle East which the ayatollahs activate to do their dirty work. That is what Hezbollah does in Lebanon; Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza; the Houthis in Yemen; and the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

Iran is the head of the serpent and if Biden wants to ensure that massacres like the one in Israel never happen again, the Iranian head needs to be cut off. Only when Iran is no longer powerful and flush with money, will the proxies start to crumble. That is the real way to defeat Islamic terrorism.

There is also reason to believe that such a strategy can work. In 2003, as the United States built up its military forces in the Persian Gulf ahead of its invasion of Iraq, Iran feared that it would be next, and Khamenei decided to stop all of his country’s nuclear activity.

He stopped enriching uranium; stopped the construction of the Arak heavy-water nuclear facility; and he had all of the physicists stop the covert weapons program.

This unprecedented freeze lasted for two years, after which Iran felt that the Americans were not invading, and Tehran could renew its nuclear program.

In the years since, many Israeli and American defense officials have looked back at the events of 2003 as proof that when Iran is presented with a credible military threat it prefers the survival of the regime over any other consideration. All that is needed is a credible military threat to do the trick.

The problem is that in the years since, when it came to the nuclear program, the U.S. was reluctant to issue threats. While it paid lip service to “all options on the table,” the Obama administration and the Biden White House preferred diplomacy and cash deals to try and contain Iran.

But this is a flawed strategy, and the proof is what happened in Israel on Saturday. When dealing with Islamic radicals, containment does not work. For almost 20 years, since pulling out of the Gaza Strip in 2005, Israel maintained a policy of containment vis-a-vis Hamas, believing that it could deter the Gaza group through an occasional military confrontation as well as economic incentives.

This myth blew up in Israelis’ faces on Saturday, and while the results are horrific, the silver lining is that what happened presents the U.S. and the rest of the world with an opportunity to reset the region and make clear that what was, will no longer be.

The Hamas massacre in Israel is a chance for a new regional order that will not only lead to the weakening and hopefully end of this ruthless terrorist organization, but also force Iran to stop its pursuit of a nuclear weapon and prevent another front from opening for Israel in the north.

This is a unique and historic opportunity. Biden should seize it.

Yaakov Katz is a senior fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute, a former editor of the Jerusalem Post where he remains a columnist, and the author of three books on Israeli military affairs. Follow him on Twitter @yaakovkatz.

The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.

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