In a significant foreign policy address delivered at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., Florida Governor and Republican presidential aspirant, Ron DeSantis, called for the ‘destruction of the Iranian economy’ as a strategic response to recent U.S. airstrikes on Iranian-controlled sites in Syria.
The airstrikes were a retaliation act for attacks on U.S. military bases in Syria and Iraq, a series of assaults that began on October 17, resulting in minor injuries to 21 U.S. service members and the unfortunate demise of an American contractor.
Sanctions Over Strikes
DeSantis’s remarks underscore a stark divergence from the current administration’s approach towards Iran. He accused President Biden of ‘enriching’ Iran by waiving sanctions. By contrast, he believes that economic pressure on Iran would curtail its ability to fund groups like Hezbollah and Hamas.
Critics of the Biden administration argue that it enriched Iran by waiving a sanction on $10 billion frozen in Iraq, enabling the funds to be deposited into Iranian bank accounts in Oman.
However, the Biden administration maintains that it has responded with economic sanctions and bolstered military presence to counter Iran’s influence in the region.
U.S. Airstrikes: A Message to Iran
The U.S. airstrikes in Syria, which targeted two Iranian-controlled sites in eastern Syria, were not connected to the Israel-Hamas conflict, according to the Pentagon.
Instead, they were a clear message to Iran not to exploit the regional turmoil. The strikes were carried out in self-defense as U.S. forces had come under a range of attacks by proxy groups backed by Iran in both Iraq and Syria.
China: The Economic Enabler
DeSantis also turned his attention to China during his foreign policy address, accusing Beijing of contributing to global instability through its economic ties to Russia and Iran.
According to him, China is financially propping up both Iran and Russia, causing harm to U.S. interests while simultaneously benefiting China. He called for a reorientation of U.S. policy to prioritize the Indo-Pacific region and proposed a build-up of the U.S. Navy to deter China from invading Taiwan.
Additionally, DeSantis emphasized the need to prevent China from obtaining emerging technologies and advocated for building supply chains with allies to reduce reliance on Chinese markets for critical natural resources.
As he vies for the Republican presidential nomination, DeSantis’s call for the destruction of the Iranian economy and his focus on countering China’s influence underscore his strong stance on foreign policy issues.
Regardless of his positioning as a candidate who will take a resolute stance against Iran and China to protect U.S. interests, it remains to be seen how these positions will resonate with voters and whether they will gain traction in the crowded field of Republican candidates.