LARRY KUDLOW: Biden should read up on military history

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I want to celebrate April 18, 1988. Why? Because, on that day, at the direction of President Ronald Reagan, U.S. warships and aircraft sank six Iranian naval ships and also took out two Iranian oil platforms, that were also used as command-and-control radar sites. 

I’m relying here on a news report published by the Los Angeles Times in 1988. Mr. Reagan called it a measured response to renewed Iranian mining of the Gulf that damaged a U.S. frigate. 

Mr. Reagan said: “We’ve taken this action to make certain the Iranians have no illusions about the cost of irresponsible behavior. We aim to deter further Iranian aggression, not provoke it.”  

The late president added: “They must know that we will protect our ships – and if they threaten us, they’ll pay a price.” Some military analyst said at the time that, on that one day, Reagan took out nearly half the Iranian navy. 


Remember, the Reagan action was taken in response to Iranian naval mines damaging a U.S. warship. Today, U.S. military assets in the Middle East have taken over 165 hits from Iran or Iran-sponsored terrorist groups.  

Beside the three Military servicemembers who tragically lost their lives Saturday, apparently two of our best of the best Navy SEALs may be lost from an earlier Iranian-backed action. 80 U.S. servicemembers have been injured by Iran-backed attacks since October 17 – plus reportedly more than 40 injured this past Saturday night and still – and still – the Biden administration has refused to strike back directly at the Iranian puppet-masters and paymasters. 

Appeasement, not deterrence, continues to reign over Biden foreign policy. Now, here’s another date: January 3, 2020. President Donald Trump directed U.S. military to take out Qasem Soleimani – the leading Iranian terrorist mastermind – through a drone strike near the Baghdad airport. 

Iran had recently hit a U.S. military base near Kirkuk, as well as other provocations. As President Trump put it then: “The recent attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq, including rocket strikes that killed an American and injured four American servicemen very badly, as well as a violent assault on our embassy in Baghdad, were carried out at the direction of Soleimani.”  

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In other words, Trump took out Iran’s top terrorist general. He went on to say: “Soleimani has been perpetrating acts of terror to destabilize the Middle East for the last 20 years. What the United States did yesterday should have been done long ago… We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war.”  


There were a lot fewer than 160 Iranian-backed attacks on U.S. military assets back then. Military history is very important. President Biden should read up on it. Appeasement never works. 

For quite some time, Iran has escalated a Middle East war. As throughout all history, appeasement has again failed. Will Joe Biden ever learn? 

This article is adapted from Larry Kudlow’s opening commentary on the January 29, 2024, edition of “Kudlow.”   

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