Continetti: Non-Military Means Clearly Have Not Deterred Iran

'We're fighting a conflict with Iran, but it's not an overt military conflict'

September 18, 2019

Washington Free Beacon editor in chief Matthew Continetti argued Wednesday that President Donald Trump's sanctions have so far not managed to deter Iran.

During an appearance on MSNBC's Meet the Press Daily, Continetti said the United States has retaliated against Iran using various non-military means, including financial sanctions and cyber attacks. But Iran has only increased its military aggression, culminating in its recent missile strike on Saudi Arabia.

"We've been retaliating mainly through non-military means," Continetti said, naming sanctions and cyber attacks. "Clearly, those policies have not deterred the Iranians from responding in this asymmetric way. So we're fighting a conflict with Iran, but it's not an overt military conflict. It's done through proxies, it’s done through cyber, it’s done through financial sanctions. And the president, I think, has always weighted economic power over military power. The problem right now is it has yet to produce the results that he would like to see in several of these theaters."

Continetti also said the uncertainty surrounding who is responsible for the attack on Saudi Arabia stems from Americans' reluctance to enter another Middle East war.

"Even if it came from Yemen—well, who funds the parties in Yemen that would have engaged in this attack, right?" Continetti said. "It all goes back to Tehran. But here’s the issue, the reason why we are having all these big discussions about lack of credibility or can we trust the intelligence is that Americans are tired of Middle East wars."

Anchor Chuck Todd agreed and said, "Trump knows it."

"This goes back to the Obama administration—it’s not particular to Trump," Continetti went on. "It's reflected on Capitol Hill, it's reflected in the White House now, and so I don’t see the prospects of any military retaliation any time soon."

Trump said his measured response to Iran's latest attack was a sign of strength, and he tweeted that he's imposing more sanctions.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters the United States is confident the attack came from Iran, although the Iranian regime has denied involvement.

"The intelligence community has high confidence that these were not weapons that would have been in the possession of the Houthis," Pompeo said, referring to the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. "That's probably the most important piece of information."