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David B. Crist, Politico: What Obama Should Learn From Reagan’s War With Iran

It’s been nearly 30 years since the U.S. Navy fought Iran in the Persian Gulf. How much longer will that peace last?

President Barack Obama must have spent last week wondering if he’d stumbled back into the 1980s as he responded to new Iranian aggressions in the Strait of Hormuz and ordered the Navy’s 5th Fleet to escort ships transiting the Persian Gulf. The headlines could have been ripped right out of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, when naval engagements with Iran became all-too commonplace.

It’s a chapter of history that most U.S. policymakers—and too many military officers—have long forgotten. But the Iranians certainly haven’t. Ryan Crocker, one of America’s old Middle East hands and whose first posting as a newly minted diplomat was to Khorramshahr during the days of the Shah, once explained, “For Iran, history is not the past, but the present.” Just as Vietnam shaped a generation of American military officers, the Tanker War of the 1980s profoundly influenced the thinking of Iran’s current military leaders; in fact, today Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Navy is headed by a veteran of that war. The 1980s conflict also has influenced the Iranian military’s view of any future war with the United States, and it’s spent decades ensuring that it won’t repeat the crippling mistakes made fighting a previous U.S. president.

Unfortunately, the Pentagon has begun listening to those lessons only recently.


WNU Editor: A sobering essay. Read it all.

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