Iran Isn’t Impressed by U.S. Airstrikes
Category: Op/EdVia: vic-eldred • 2 weeks ago • 26 comments
By: WSJ Editorial Board
The war in the Middle East could still morph into a larger regional conflict, and the Biden Administration is calibrating its actions to manage that risk. But the confounding reality is that President Biden’s weak responses to attacks on U.S. forces aren’t deterring Iran and its proxies, which increases the risk of escalation.
The Pentagon said this week that Iranian proxies have attacked U.S. forces in the Middle East with drones or rockets 46 times since Oct. 17—some 24 times in Iraq and 22 more in Syria. Some 56 U.S. service members have been injured. The Pentagon is quick to stress that all have returned to duty, including those sent to Landstuhl in Germany for further evaluation. That’s good to hear, but troops have suffered traumatic brain injuries, in addition to more minor injuries such as shrapnel or perforated ear drums. These troops didn’t sign up to be repeated targets of enemy fire without the ability to respond in kind.
The surgical U.S. military strikes in response aren’t making Tehran think twice about hitting American troops. The U.S. on Wednesday dispatched two F-15s to destroy an Iranian weapons locker in eastern Syria. But why would Tehran blink now if it didn’t after similar strikes on weapons depots on Oct. 26? The Houthi rebels in Yemen this week took down a U.S. drone over the Red Sea. They don’t appear to be worried about the U.S. vow to respond “swiftly and decisively,” to quote Secretary of State Antony Blinken last month, if U.S. forces or facilities were attacked again.
The central fact is that Iranian proxies are now routinely trying to kill American service members abroad, while the U.S. is responding by shooting at ammunition. The militias will continue to do this, and eventually they may succeed. The Biden Administration has been touting its addition of air defenses to the region and an Ohio-class submarine is lurking in the neighborhood. But what’s the point of military assets if America’s enemies don’t fear that the U.S. will use them?
Iran’s mullahs are testing Mr. Biden and his commitment to restoring an eroded American deterrence. This is dangerous, and it puts American lives at risk.