Tensions are running high in the Persian Gulf region. The U.S. has pulled out of the nuclear accord with Iran and ratcheted up sanctions on that country, whose government continues its support of radical forces in the region. Iran threatens international shipping in the Gulf and, most troubling of all, it looks to be behind the outrageous missile attack that did major damage to a significant Saudi oil facility.

In response, the United States has sent a missile defense battery, other protective equipment and military personnel to help defend Saudi Arabia. The proper course for our country is to pursue diplomatic efforts to quell the tensions and, above all, avoid the assumption that any large-scale military fight with Iran — a well-armed, aggressive power — would necessarily be quick and simple.

History in the region provides clear lessons otherwise. The Iraq War proved a painful, prolonged engagement. Israel’s invasion of southern Lebanon in 1982, similarly, turned out to be a far more complicated enterprise than originally planned.

The sensible course forward in the Persian Gulf region lies through negotiations at the conference table, not in hostile exchanges involving military assaults and human casualties.

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