Don’t Let Iran Distract From China

September 24, 2019

The Trump administration is right to respond cautiously to last week’s Iranian attack on Saudi Arabia. As the U.S. protects its interests in the Middle East, it must not allow its military focus to be wrested away from Asia.

The threat from Iran pales in comparison to that from China. Iran’s economy is less than 1/20th the size of China’s. The leadership in Tehran may be especially hostile to the U.S., but it’s increasingly evident that their counterparts in Beijing are hardly friendly.

And while Iran’s military is a threat to neighbors in the Gulf, especially through proxy militias, its capabilities are sharply limited. Its armed forces are decidedly inferior to the U.S. military. Iran could not take the territory of U.S. partners and hope to hold it. If Tehran invaded another state, its assault could readily be defeated by a combination of regional partners and U.S. forces as they surged into the theater.

WSJ Opinion

Elbridge Colby is co-founder and principal of The Marathon Initiative, a policy initiative focused on developing strategies to prepare the United States for an era of sustained great power competition.