Snap a few pics. Grab a falafel. Plan a terrorist attack.

Eileen Sullivan reports for the Associated Press that the New York City Police Department is playing cat and mouse in Manhattan with the Iranian intelligence service.

No big surprise here. Iranian intelligence has been busy in the United States and Canada for some time. Washington got another wake-up call recently when authorities foiled a plot aimed at bombing the Saudi ambassador in our own backyard. That was followed by a chilling admission from the head of the U.S. intelligence community. Appearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in January, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper warned that the assassination attempt “shows that some Iranian officials—probably including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei—have changed their calculus and are now more willing to conduct an attack in the U.S. in response to real or perceived U.S. actions that threaten the regime.”

Just more reminders that they are out get us—and we ought to be sober and realistic in how we deal with them. War may not be the answer, but if we don’t get serious—well, that is often how war happens. Note to Fareed Zakaria: Don’t shoot the messenger—that is just how the world works.

President Obama has known since he came into office that Iranian intelligence has been targeting us for years; that Iran is the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism, that Iran was aiding in the effort to kill American soldiers in Iraq, that the country had a “covert” nuclear weapons program, and that the government was the chief enemy of its own people.

Yet the President spent most of his presidency engaging with the Iranian regime—only recently has he become a convert to stiff sanctions and “engagement” with the Iranian people rather than with the oppressive government. Even now, the President believes that the pressure is going to get Iran to negotiate away its capacity to build nuclear weapons. That ain’t gonna work.

But rather than beat up the White House for what it didn’t do the last three years, we ought to be working toward a strong national consensus on the way forward—one worried less about the impact on the next election and more about how to deal with one of the world’s worst regimes.