Editorial Board

Stand Against Terrorism, Even in Iran

Trump can show that the U.S. condemns an ideology of hate anywhere in the world.

Give peace a chance?

Photographer: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

There is only one acceptable response to Wednesday's deadly terrorist attacks in Iran: swift and unequivocal condemnation of the perpetrators, and condolences to the victims. By joining the other world leaders who have offered their sympathy, U.S. President Donald Trump can reaffirm both America's standing in the community of nations and its determination to defeat terrorism, whatever and wherever its source.

Yes, there is an obvious irony here: The U.S. has rightly condemned Iran's long history of support for violence and funding of groups such as Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas. Washington's sanctions on the Tehran government for this, as well as human-rights abuses and violations of United Nations' strictures on missile defense, will remain in place. But this is not the moment to talk of just deserts.

Nor can expressions of sympathy be offered in expectation of a change in behavior -- the idea that this horrific event may make Iranian leaders somehow more amenable to altering their strategy of supporting the Syrian regime and instead focus on defeating Islamic State, which has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Such attacks cannot help but change their perspective. Only time will tell how that will translate into policy.

It’s unfortunate that a statement from Iran's elite military force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, looks to pin part of the blame for the attacks on Trump's recent visit to Saudi Arabia. The U.S. should not rise to the bait, and fortunately the State Department's pro-forma official statement does not. This is no time to score propaganda points.

For 16 years, the U.S. has insisted that the fight against terrorism is not against any religion but against an ideology of hate and murder. This is a chance to show the sincerity of those claims. Trump wasted no time condemning the spate of recent terrorist attacks in the U.K., and the same reaction is called for now. The murder of innocents is wrong, always and everywhere.

    --Editors: Tobin Harshaw, Michael Newman.

    To contact the senior editor responsible for Bloomberg View’s editorials: David Shipley at davidshipley@bloomberg.net .

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