The killing of three US troops and dozens more by Iran-backed militants on Sunday has sparked political pressure on President Joe Biden to directly attack Iran, a move he has been hesitant to do due to fear of sparking a broader war. Biden’s response options could range from targeting Iranian forces outside Iran or opting for a cautious retaliatory attack solely against the responsible militants.
American forces in the Middle East have been attacked more than 150 times by Iran-backed forces since the Israel-Hamas war began in October. However, until Sunday’s attack on Tower 22 near Jordan’s northeastern border with Syria, the strikes had not killed or wounded as many US troops.
This allowed Biden the political space to mete out US retaliation, inflicting costs on Iran-backed forces without risking a direct war with Tehran. Republicans accuse Biden of letting American forces become sitting ducks, waiting for the day when a drone or missile would evade base defenses.
Representative Mike Rogers, a Republican in the House of Representatives, has called for action against the Iranian regime and their extremist proxies for the recent attacks.
Trump, who hopes to face Biden in the upcoming election, portrayed the attack as a result of Biden’s weakness and surrender. The Biden administration has stated that it protects US troops worldwide.
Democratic Representative Barbara Lee expressed concern that Biden’s strategy of containing the Israel-Hamas conflict to Gaza is failing, and that the conflict is spiraling out of control, putting the US and its troops in danger.
Having been a Marine for four tours of duty in Iraq, Democratic Representative Seth Moulton has advised against Republican calls for war with Iran, saying that “deterrence is hard; war is worse.” He thinks that in order to respond to the US on its terms and schedule, one must be strategic and successful.
Experts advise against attacking Iranian military within Iran since doing so may provoke a strong reaction from Tehran, worsening the situation and possibly drawing the US into a protracted conflict in the Middle East. The Center for a New American Security’s Jonathan Lord, head of the Middle East security program, stated that attacking Iran directly would make Tehran wonder if the government would survive.