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US deaths put political pressure on Biden to attack Iran
On Sunday, three US deaths of solders and dozens more injured in an attack by Iran-backed terrorists. President Joe Biden is facing increasing political pressure to directly confront Iran, a move he has been reluctant to take due to the fear of sparking a broader conflict.
Experts suggest that Biden’s response options range from targeting Iranian forces outside Iran to potential strikes within Iran itself, or choosing a more cautious approach with heightened responses against Iran-backed terrorists. Since the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict in October, over 150 attacks have been carried out by Iran-backed forces on American bases in Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Yemen along the Middle East shores
However, the recent attack near Tower 22, a remote outpost near the northeastern border of Syria with Jordan, resulted in no American casualties or significant injuries. This has provided Biden with a political space to address the retaliation against Iran-backed forces without risking a direct confrontation with Tehran.
Without providing detailed information, Biden mentioned that the United States would respond. Republicans accused Biden of allowing American forces to become sitting ducks, waiting for a day when a drone or missile would slip through missile defenses. They argue that Sunday’s attack was the day they had been anticipating.
Republican Senator Tom Cotton criticized Biden, saying, “He’s left our soldiers sitting ducks.” “The only response to these attacks should be a devastating military response against Iran and its proxy forces throughout the Middle East.”
Representative Mike Rogers, the leading Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, called for action against Tehran as well.Rogers said, “Now is the time for President Biden to finally hold accountable the terrorist Iranian regime and their extremist proxies for the attacks they’ve carried out.”
Former President Donald Trump, hoping to contest against Biden in the next presidential election, depicted the attacks as a result of Biden’s weakness and appeasement. The Biden administration insists that it is making every effort to ensure the security of American soldiers worldwide.
One Democrat expressed concern openly that Biden’s strategy to deter the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza is failing. Representative Barbara Lee called for a fresh approach to a ceasefire in Israel, stating, “As we see now, it’s spiraling out of control. It’s becoming an emerging regional war, and unfortunately, the United States and our soldiers are in harm’s way.” – Palestinian conflict.
Republican calls for war have been met with resistance by Democratic Representative Seth Moulton, a former Marine who has spent four tours of duty in Iraq, saying, “Restraint is hard; war is worse.” Moulton continued, “For the chickenhawks calling for war with Iran, you’re playing into the enemy’s hands—and I want you to send your sons and daughters to fight.”
Experts warn that a direct strike within Iran against Iranian forces could force Tehran to give a robust response, potentially leading the United States to get entangled in a large-scale Middle East war.
Jonathan Lord, director of the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, stated that a direct strike within Iran would represent a significant challenge to Tehran’s rule. The Lord stated, “When you openly do something, you represent a big problem for Iranians.”
Charles Lister of the Middle East Institute in Washington suggested that any potential response might target significant objectives related to Iranian-backed groups or high-value terrorists in Iraq or Syria.
“What happened this morning was at a completely different level from anything done by these proxies in the last two to three months… (but) despite all the calls, I don’t think this administration will do anything beyond rhetoric,” Lister said.
An anonymous U.S. defense official stated that it is unclear what the second and third-order effects will be after striking Iran. The official said, “Until America is fully ready for war, what will we gain from attacking Iran?”
Nevertheless, Lord and other experts acknowledge that Israel has conducted attacks on Iranian positions without deterring Iran and that the United States previously went after Iranians outside Iran, such as the targeted strike against top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in 2020, with only limited responses within a defined timeframe.
“So, to an extent, if you work hard and go high enough, we have a track record of showing Iran can explode,” Lister commented.