Biden and the Reagan Doctrine: Is It Time?

( – A Fox News columnist has called on President Biden to revive a Cold War policy and apply it to Iran’s extremist regime. Rebekah Koffler says Biden should “invoke the Reagan Doctrine against Iran.” So what is the Reagan Doctrine, what would it involve, and is it time for the president to abandon his futile search for a peace deal with the ayatollahs?

Koffler Says Follow “The Gipper”

On January 11, Rebekah Koffler, an author, military intelligence analyst, and Fox News columnist, wrote an op-ed calling on President Biden to update President Ronald Reagan’s anti-communist doctrine to help rein in Iran’s regime. She argued that Iran’s sponsorship of attacks on shipping by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, in a blatant attempt to disrupt world trade, is the last straw; we shouldn’t tolerate Tehran’s regional meddling anymore. Koffler’s solution is to modernize the 1980s “Reagan Doctrine.”

The Reagan Doctrine, outlined by the 40th president in his February 6, 1985 State of the Union address, stated that the US “must not break faith with those risking their lives […] to defy Soviet-supported aggression and secure [their birth] rights.” It was specifically directed, of course, at victims of Soviet communism –- but Reagan also adapted it for use against Iran. Koffler argues that it could just as easily be applied to Iran now.

According to Koffler, well-targeted escalation of force can actually bring stability. She said that by “demonstrating our own superiority at every level of conflict,” the US can make adversaries like Iran hesitate; whenever they’re contemplating an attack, they need to consider if the attack will make us back down or provoke us into hitting back harder.

Is Iran willing to throw stones at an adversary that might respond with a gun? Reagan bet they weren’t, so when a US Navy frigate was damaged by an Iranian mine on April 14, 1988, Reagan’s response was Operation Praying Mantis.

Four days later, eight US warships and the carrier USS Enterprise launched a crushing attack on the Iranian navy. Two warships and three speedboats were sunk, another frigate was seriously damaged, and two offshore platforms used for speedboat attacks on shipping were demolished. The strike was a massive escalation above the level of violence Iran had used –- but it worked. Iran launched no more strikes on US warships while Reagan was president.

The Biden administration’s approach to Iran has been very different. Obsessed with resurrecting the failed 2015 nuclear deal he helped deliver as vice president, he’s made concession after concession to the ayatollahs –- while they continue to destabilize Iraq and Yemen, maneuver Hamas and Hezbollah to attack Israel, and support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Koffler thinks it’s time he changed tack and gave Tehran some good old-fashioned Reagan-style escalation. The January 11 US-UK strikes on the Iran-backed Houthi rebels were a step in the right direction, but Biden is still trying to placate Iran.

Perhaps it’s time the gloves came off, and Biden spoke to the ayatollahs in the only language they understand –- violence.

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