The past couple of days have been bloody as Iran and its surrogates and Israel fight a dirty war of retribution using the streets of innocent countries as fields of battle. Additionally, the Iranian Navy continues to threaten the world’s oil shipping lanes with rhetoric and by making furtive moves against the U.S. Navy. I think we are very close to the tipping point of war with Iran. It’s been coming since 1979 when Iranian radicals took U.S. diplomats hostage.

Over the years Iran has repeatedly committed acts of war against the West and particularly the United States. There are many, many examples of these acts going back to the early 1980s through the present time. We, on the other hand, have taken the posture over these many years of turning the other cheek and working through diplomacy and intelligence operations to try and keep them in check. Time is running out, and our efforts have not deterred the Iranian leadership. In my opinion, the more time we give them, the more dangerous they become.

I have always believed that Iran has, since 1979, been the most serious enemy of the United States and the West. From the 1980s through the mid-1990s, I was part of the FBI counterterrorism effort that worked against Iran and Hezbollah inside the United States. From what I saw then and from what I see now, I think that, absent some major change in Iran’s behavior, we will end up in a shooting war with that country. I don’t think that it will be an easy war either.

The Iranian intelligence service is very active throughout the world and has allies that will help its Officers and Agents conduct extensive terrorist operations if we do go to war. Iran also has Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to rely on to conduct attacks against Western forces both inside Iran and in other countries. There is also the threat of a nuclear response by the Iranian regime. Do we really know what they have, and can they at this point in time put together a couple crude devices and deliver them? I hope we know this answer, but we could be surprised and we have been before. Intelligence analysis is not a perfect game, as we saw in Iraq.

The Iranian people do not support their government with its political and religious leaders. But they are helpless, and any internal efforts to move the government away from its policies have been immediately and violently repressed. So here we are after 33 years of trying to deal with a “rouge terrorist state” looking at events that are probably a prelude to war. There are certainly a lot of things to consider, like can we afford another war on top of those that we have and are fighting right now? If they have a nuclear device(s), my view is that we must afford it and do it soon because these are people who would use the bomb against us and our allies without hesitation. Can we defeat them? The answer is yes, but the cost in blood – theirs and ours – will be significant. Will it be a long war? I believe it will be, and I believe that battlefields will be all over the world because Iran’s surrogates have been in place in many countries for 33 years waiting and planning for the final conflict. Inside Iran, they have had a long time to plan for war with the West, and I will be surprised if they are push-over’s like the Iraqis were during our wars with them.

I do not envy the decisions that the White House and Congress may have to make if things continue to spiral out of control. I hope they are up to it because this may be the last chance we have to deal with Iran before it becomes a capable and dangerous nuclear armed enemy.