Iran has already escalated, and Joe Biden wants Israel to ignore it

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun11,2024

If you listened to the narrative coming out of the White House on Sunday, you might have thought Iran’s attack Saturday evening was a failure. The Biden administration’s fast and furious spin was aimed at de-escalating the situation.

But strategic deterrence is being sacrificed in the process. Playing defense is the new Biden administration normal. Israel’s virtually impenetrable air defense is supposed to serve as a constant barrier against future attacks that will become the new normal.

President Biden and his national security team immediately began pushing this recipe for another forever war. “Together with our partners, we defeated that attack,” Biden said.

White House National Security Spokesperson John Kirby told us it was “an embarrassing failure for the supreme leader” and for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that “We don’t seek escalation but will continue to support the defense of Israel.”

Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, meanwhile, would have you believe its attack was a “responsible and measured act.” 

But Iran does not believe its attack was a failure. To the contrary, Iran successfully demonstrated a capability that it can repeat “within seconds.” Iranians were celebrating in the streets of Tehran after the attack. Israel gets Washington’s crass play at November politics. The Biden administration has declared victory and wants to move on.

This is not your father’s U.S.A. Over the last three years, the Biden administration has created a permissive environment for our adversaries, which has led to an evolving strategy — react, defend, contain, then cut and run. Allies are growing wary of America’s commitment to them. Americans living abroad with dual citizenship have already paid the price in Afghanistan, Israel, and the Sudan.

Last Saturday was another example. Iran launched over 300 drones and missiles against Israel in response to the April 1 air strike that had destroyed an Iranian building in the capital city of Damascus, killing seven IRGC members, including Mohammed Reza Zahedi. Israel has not claimed responsibility; moreover, an Israel Defense Forces spokesman told CNN that their intelligence showed the building was not a consulate as reported in many place, but “a military building of Quds forces disguised as a civilian building.”

The vast majority of Iranian drones and missiles — 99 percent of them — were reportedly intercepted by Israel’s layered aerial defense system, anchored by the Iron Dome, with the assistance of U.S., British, and Jordanian fighter jets. 

Iran promptly drew a red line warning Israel not to respond. Iran’s mission to the United Nations tweeted just hours after the attack was initiated that “the matter can be deemed concluded….However, should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran’s response will be considerably more severe.” 

On Sunday morning, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi doubled down on the message, warning, “If the Zionist regime or its supporters demonstrate reckless behavior, they will receive a decisive and much stronger response.”

That was all the Biden administration needed to hear. They quickly obliged, telling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the U.S. would not participate in any retaliation against Iran.

The president wants to avoid a direct confrontation with Iran and is looking for an off-ramp. Biden emphasized to Netanyahu during a phone call that nothing of “value” was hit in Iran’s airborne attack, adding that Israel’s ability to intercept nearly all of the missiles and drones showed its military superiority.

While true, this is also irrelevant.

Iran still maintains the capability to repeat Saturday evening’s bombardment. It still has operational control over Iran’s proxies in Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Interdicting drones and missiles in flight is not the same as destroying the weapons platforms and crews that launched them. As much as Biden and his team of advisers want this crisis to be over, it is not. Iran remains a threat — asymmetrically, unconventionally, conventionally and via weapons of mass destruction.

Israel does not deem the matter concluded and will not let Iran or the U.S. dictate conditions to it. Jerusalem will strike back. Israeli Lt. Gen Herzi Halevi confirmed this when he told reporters on Monday, “This launch of so many missiles, cruise missiles and drones into Israeli territory will be met with a response.” 

The only questions are when, and what the targets will be. As a result of the 99 percent interdiction rate, Israel has confidence that its layered air defense network can withstand additional attacks from Iran, Lebanon, and Yemen. On the short list will be Iran’s nuclear facilities, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps leadership, bases and troop formations, oil platforms and refineries, missile and drone launch sites, drone production facilities, and possibly regime leadership themselves.

Escalation Paralysis is once again gripping Biden’s White House. Kirby told CNN on Monday that Biden was “very clear that we don’t want a war with Iran. We don’t seek to widen and broaden this conflict. We don’t want to see things escalate.”

But the escalation has already happened. It began on Oct. 7 when Iran’s proxy Hamas launched its attack into Israel, killing 1,200 and taking more than 240 hostages. Both the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal reported that Hamas received support and training from Iran. 

The Biden administration seems to have developed a blind spot for the most significant of Iranian escalations in the region — 170 attacks by Iranian proxies on U.S. bases throughout the Middle East since Oct. 17. Not until the attack on Tower 22 in Jordan, which resulted in the deaths of three U.S. servicemembers, did the U.S. even respond. 

Biden’s warning — “Don’t” — issued back in October and again on April 12, was ignored, of course. Iran simply does not believe the U.S. will take any offensive action against it. 

The Hamas attack on Israel and Iran’s retaliatory response were unprecedented, each skipping multiple rungs on the so-called escalation ladder. Biden’s avoidance of escalation and failure to do anything about Iran crossing the “Don’t” red line only greenlights further Iranian escalation. Defend, protect and contain have not deterred anything. Escalation is assured.

Continuing to support the defense of Israel against the Iranian threat is noble, but it will not stop future onslaughts of missile and drone attacks. The Biden administration should have learned that lesson already in Ukraine. 

Iran, like its Russian ally, only understands a punch in the face. The U.S. can no longer seek refuge behind a strategy of react, defend and contain. It must support Israel to prevent further attacks. Now is not the time to cut and run. Allowing Iran time and space to reset and prepare its next attack must not be an option.

Col. (Ret.) Jonathan Sweet served 30 years as a military intelligence officer. Mark Toth writes on national security and foreign policy. 

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “Iran has already escalated, and Joe Biden wants Israel to ignore it”
  1. Does the Biden administration truly believe that downplaying Iran’s attack is the right approach to ensure Israel’s defense in the long run?

    1. Emily34, the Biden administration’s approach of downplaying Iran’s attack aims to prevent further escalation and prioritize strategic deterrence over immediate retaliation for the defense of Israel.

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