None Dare Call It Casus Belli

We’re currently engaged in two shooting wars. In Iraq, we’re fighting Iraqi insurgents and foreign volunteers and independents who wish to drive us out of the Middle East and topple the nascent Iraqi democracy, replacing it with some variant of yet another Islamic theocracy. And in Afghanistan, we’re fighting Afghan insurgents and foreign volunteers and independents who wish to drive us out of the Middle East and topple the nascent Afghan democracy, replacing it with some variant of yet another Islamic theocracy.

Oh, and we’re also fighting elite members of the Iranian military, there on the orders of the Iranian government. In both Iraq and Afghanistan.

That isn’t how The Game is played. Iran’s following part of the script — their troops are out of uniform, working incognito. But they’re supposed to limit themselves to “training” and “advisory” roles, not active combatants. That gives the government a certain level of what is commonly known as “plausible deniability.”

Because when one nation orders its soldiers to attack the soldiers of another nation, that is pretty much the definition of war.

Iran has considered itself “at war” with the United States for over 30 years. That conflict has flared up numerous times, with actual shots fired and people killed, over those years. There have been attacks and flareups over the years, with fights between their ships and aircraft and our ships and aircraft. But never anything this systemic, this deliberate, this prolonged — the deployment of ground forces specifically to target and engage and kill our ground forces.

I don’t know if there’s a good solution, but the first thought I have is to apply international law: members of an armed service who engage in combat while not wearing uniforms and identifying insignia (including national insignia) are subject to execution. If they want to live, then they can offer testimony and evidence that they were acting on the direct orders of their government.

And then let Iran repudiate their own soldiers, or stand up and admit that they are waging war against the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq.

That should put a crimp in the number of volunteers Iran finds to go fight the US. Especially among the highly-skilled and intelligent members of their military — the most valuable ones.

Iran is waging war on us. That is indisputable. What we need to do is to decide how to fight back.

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