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Bringing Iran 'To Its Senses'

Our failure to enforce and sustain crippling economic sanctions requires us to understand the forces of evil we have allowed to be unleashed.

Ali Jamenei, líder supremo de Irán.

Ali Jamenei, líder supremo de Irán (Cordon Press).

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As Imperial Japan pursued a strategy of aggression and murderous destruction in China, the United States in 1940 sought to confront Tokyo with a strategy of economic restrictions, trading embargoes, and the threat of frozen financial assets.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) said at the time it was not his intent to bring Japan to its knees but to its senses.

There are lessons from policies and strategies forged nearly 85 years ago that need to be learned and applied as it becomes evident to those even in deliberate denial that Iran remains the malevolent force in the Middle East, masterminding the recent carnage inflicted by Hamas on Israel.

Under FDR, the Commerce Department created a task force of specialists that identified key commodities they believed were vital to Japan functioning as a society and important to their military. From rubber and petroleum to chromium and silk, Japan's imports and exports were analyzed within the context of their war-making capabilities. The U.S. Treasury would also deploy their analysts to track Japan's cash reserves, including their tens of millions of dollars that, even then, was the crucial global currency for international trade.

Today, the United States is facing an Iran that has used diplomatic guile, terrorist surrogates, and hidden cryptocurrency transfers to handle everything from paying for imports to funding those who will do their bidding in Gaza, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. They are a sophisticated and ruthless enemy. Yet they are strategically vulnerable if America and her allies are prepared to use that most potent of weapons: economic sanctions.

Analysts report that Iranian oil exports have significantly increased over the past three years as U.S. sanctions eased. To no surprise, China has taken advantage of the opportunity to literally fuel their economy with Tehran's "liquid gold." But that is a minor sideshow compared to how Iran has used its resurging oil profits to instigate a conflict that has catastrophically harmed the ability of the Middle East to find peace. And tragically, it has been the misguided policies of the current White House that allowed these events to unfold.

Some may argue that, with militants in Syria attacking American forces at the direction of Iran, we have the right to respond by mining the waters off their oil terminals. That escalation would surely have unintended consequences, but our failure to enforce and sustain crippling economic sanctions requires us to understand the forces of evil we have allowed to be unleashed.

At the very least, the United States should return to a policy that seeks to bring Iran "to its senses" if not its knees. It is time to return and enforce strict economic sanctions immediately.

© Gatestone Institute