WASHINGTON, DC- In January 2020, then-President Donald Trump ordered the drone strike that killed Qasem Soleimani, who was widely believed to be the number one terrorist in the world. When he authorized the strike, President Trump did so without telegraphing it. Such was not the case this past week when Biden authorized “retaliatory” strikes against the Iranian regime.
Carefully leaked talking points from the White House all last week telegraphed the intention of Biden to launch strikes against Iranian targets in response to the killing of three US service members in Jordan just over a week ago.
According to The Telegraph, fill-in White House spokesperson John Kirby told the press pool the administration was going to initiate revenge strikes against “Iranian-backed groups” in the Middle East.
However, he appeared to rule out a direct attack on Iranian soil, claiming the US didn’t want to “escalate” the conflict in the region. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the response could be “multi-leveled, come in stages, and be sustained over time.”
Kirby further claimed the US would initiate a “very consequential response” but emphasized the Pentagon was “not seeking conflict with the regime in a military way.”
The proposed response comes after three US Army reservists were killed in the drone strike. They were identified as Sgt. William Rivers, 46; Specialist Kennedy Saunders, 24; and Specialist Breonna Moffett, 23. The three heroes were the first US troops killed in the region since hostilities ramped up after Hamas terrorists killed over 1,000 Israeli citizens starting on October 7. Dozens of other troops were injured in the attack.
US News & World Report notes there have been over 150 attacks on US troops since the October 7 Hamas atrocities sparked renewed hostilities in the region.
The US response, however, has been feeble according to some and has led to some confusion as to what exactly the administration is trying to accomplish.
As an example, CBS News National Security Correspondent David Martin claimed on “CBS Evening News” on February 2 that the US military “was perplexed by the degree to which” the administration “telegraphed these strikes,” Breitbart News reported. He said that by doing so it “gave the militia leaders and Iranian operatives in Iraq and Syria time to either get out of the country or go to ground by surrounding themselves with women and children.”
Host Norah O’Donnell asked Martin if that would impact the effectiveness of the strikes.
“So, just about that, the president essentially telegraphed that some of these strikes would be coming. Did that impact their effectiveness?”
“Well, the military was perplexed by the degree to which the military telegraphed these strikes because it gave the militia leaders and Iranian operatives in Iraq and Syria time to either get out of the country or go to ground by surrounding themselves with women and children. But if the militias intend to resume their strikes against American troops, sooner or later, they have to come out of hiding. And if tonight’s strikes were successful, when they come out of hiding, they won’t have much to work with.”
Others, however, expressed significant skepticism about the administration’s response. In an opinion piece in The Telegraph, Robert Clark, a fellow at the Yorktown Institute in Washington, DC, who formerly served in the British Army, slammed the US response, claiming Biden was “desperate…to avoid further reprisals from the mullahs in Tehran.”
“A clear and objective view of recent events in the Middle East must be placed into the correct context to better understand just how pitiful this president’s wider foreign policies are.”
Clark noted the numerous attacks on US forces since the October 7 Hamaas invasion of Israel. He noted the military bases attacked by Iranian-controlled militias target bases also housing British troops, as well as thousands of American and British contractors.
He further wrote that these attacks against the US and its allies has nothing to do with support of the Palestinian cause, claiming “Iran cares little for the Palestinian cause.” Instead, he said the goal of Iran is to eradicate Israel as a state and force the US out of the region. Clark notes the West fails “to understand this incredibly simple but uncomfortable reality.”
The deaths of three US soldiers, Clark wrote, “is three deaths more than is acceptable. Or at least it should be to any commander-in-chief who stations over 40,000 men and women in uniform in harm’s way and then does little to mitigate that harm.” He slammed the US State Department led by Blinken, saying he has been focused on “dealing with Israel’s just war against Iranian-supported terror group Hamas” while failing to “deal with the larger problem: Iran.”
Clark wrote that the carefully leaked information about retaliatory strikes by the US “communicate to Iran that the US is desperate to avoid further confrontation.”
“Any meaningful punitive action may have been reduced to a few Brimstone missiles crashing in the Iraqi and Syrian deserts, therefore minimizing further responses from Iran.”
The US response, Clark wrote, is due to “Biden’s growing determination to drive Israel to a peace deal with Hamas, in exchange for both Palestinian statehood being forced upon Israel, whilst hoping for Iran’s approval for the deal.”
Clark fears Biden’s tepid response will significantly impact US prestige in the Middle East “as both allies and adversaries can sense that the current administration has no stomach for securing its national interests.”
“To achieve actual deterrence, America must be willing to use force and strike Iranian military targets inside Iran. Strength is the only language Tehran responds to–not weakness and indecision,” Clark wrote. “As China continues to loom in the background watching, patiently, at yet a further disastrous US foreign policy agenda unfold, this is incredibly dangerous signaling to future adversaries who may aspire to sow chaos themselves.”
Clark’s criticism of Biden’s response was echoed by Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Ark.) and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), who called the strikes too little, too late.
“It is past time for our commander-in-chief to adopt a new approach that targets the actual sponsors of terrorism in the region,” said Wicker, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, in a statement.
“The Biden admin must be decisive with sustained retaliatory strikes and begin to enforce oil and other sanctions to cut off the source of terror funding,” wrote McCaul, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in a statement.
Meanwhile, Sen. Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.) wrote: “To restore effective deterrence, President Biden must hit Iran where it hurts. Weak, telegraphed responses will not cut it. We need leadership, not appeasement.”