America is looking like a wimpy kid on a playground of bullies. Twice in the last two months, Iranian navy speed boats have made close runs on our formidable Navy ships on the open seas of the Persian Gulf. They came within 200 yards of the USS Nitze–close enough that they could have fired guns at sailors on the deck. Wait, hasn’t our president been saying that if we play nice with Iran, they’ll begin to love and respect us? Last April, Russian fighter jets buzzed dangerously close to the USS Donald Cook destroyer in the neutral waters of the Baltic Sea. Then there is the constant harassment of our forces by China.

Although our history is not without shameful moments, we have been the most benevolent and dependable nation on the globe until recently. Our defense of justice fueled by our abundant resources presents us with a moral obligation to respond aggressively against bad-actor countries. A nation dedicated to upholding moral principles and having the power to back it up should be feared by all rogue governments. Being feared is not bad if it is leveraged for good. We were feared…until the last few years. Now, nations large and small are testing the giant to see how fainthearted we are and how far they can push the limit.

It’s time for America to wake up and grab Teddy Roosevelt’s big stick! Our president needs to use this latest incident with the Iranian navy to throw down the gauntlet. He should call a national news conference immediately. He should put the world on notice that threats to our national sovereignty in any form will not be tolerated. He should make it clear that we will always protect our citizens, especially those manning our weapons systems on land, on sea, and in the air. Then, he should look straight into the camera and say to the world that the next provocation by any country will be met with dire consequences.

Of course, saying and doing have little in common for this president when it comes to international conflict. He would have to back those warnings with actions. Forces of any other nation that come near our war ships or military aircraft must be attacked with the full force of our capability. Boats demonstrating blatant provocation must be sunk; aircraft doing the same must be shot out of the sky.

The squeamish among us might declare that ordering such response could start a war. I would offer that failure to order such response will ultimately lead to war as our adversaries assess us as weak and without resolve. Peace through power is not a cliche; it’s a successful strategy that works every time it’s tried.

I just hope and pray that the president’s penchant for flaunting weakness doesn’t result in something catastrophic before he takes his final Air Force One ride to his retirement home. My disdain for either of his likely replacements notwithstanding, I believe either of them would reverse our great nation’s recent timidity.