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NYT Analysis Exposes Biden Fecklessness – HotAir

The New York Times has an analysis written by Peter Baker that exposes just how feckless the Biden Administration has been in dealing with Iranian proxies.

The lede makes it blindingly obvious that Biden and his administration knew that American troops would get killed. Yet their responses to the nearly 200 attacks on Americans since 10/7 have been “carefully calibrated”–read weak–in the vain hope that showing restraint would somehow, magically, prevent the day that Americans would die from coming.

It doesn’t work like that. When you signal to an enemy that they can attack with impunity, they will.

Biden had made it crystal clear that Iran could direct its proxies to attack Americans without paying a price–even its proxies haven’t paid much of a price–so of course, Iran took the opportunity offered them.

This was the day that President Biden and his team had feared for more than three months, the day that relatively low-level attacks by Iranian proxy groups on American troops in the Middle East turned deadly and intensified the pressure on the president to respond in kind.

With three American service members killed and two dozen more injured by a drone in Jordan, Mr. Biden must decide how far he is willing to go in terms of retaliation at the risk of a wider war that he has sought to avoid ever since the Oct. 7 terrorist attack by Hamas touched off the current Middle East crisis.

Until now, the president had carefully calibrated his responses to the more than 150 attacks by Iranian-backed militias on American forces in the region since Oct. 7. He essentially ignored the majority that were successfully intercepted or did little to no damage while authorizing limited U.S. strikes focused mainly on buildings, weapons and infrastructure after attacks that were more brazen, most notably against the Houthis in Yemen who have targeted shipping in the Red Sea.

Let that sink in. At no point in this conflict has Biden done anything proactively to give Iran pause and to induce them to rethink their strategy. They knew Iran was going to bring things to this point, yet they struck buildings and ignored anything thrown at us or others if no damage was caused.

Yet if they throw enough stuff at us, something will hit.

Something did.

When you are dealing with a determined enemy,–and Iran certainly is that having been in a warm war with us since 1979–deterrence is the only way to prevent losses. Biden has, instead, been passive, making at most symbolic strikes on Iran’s cats’ paws.

Which is why they knew this day was coming. How could it not? Iran has made it crystal clear that they will strike as hard and as often as they can get away with.

The only way to stop such a determined foe is to ensure they know they can’t get away with it. That doesn’t mean a full-scale war with boots on the ground–that is what you want to avoid, after all. Instead, you do what any smart person does: hit them back harder until they stop. When they stop, you stop.

Deterrence works when the conditions are clear. Everybody has a pain point beyond which they will not go, even Iran.

The first deaths of American troops under fire, however, will require a different level of response, American officials said, and the president’s advisers were in consensus about that as they consulted with him by secure videoconference on Sunday. What remained unclear was whether Mr. Biden would strike targets inside Iran itself, as his Republican critics urged him to do, saying he would be a “coward” if he did not, as one put it.

“The question Biden faces is whether he just wants to react to events in the region or whether he wants to send a bigger message that attempts to restore a sense of deterrence that just hasn’t existed in the region for months now,” said Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute who worked in national security positions under President Bill Clinton.

“I’m sure they’re looking for some kind of Goldilocks response here,” he added, meaning “not too hard” that it provokes a full-fledged war, “not too soft” that it just prolongs the conflict “but something that seems just right.”

Goldilocks is rarely found on the battlefield or in real life. Goldilocks would have been torn apart by the bears.

What Baker describes here is the worst sort of diplomacy: relying on hope instead of experience. Hope is not a strategy, and if he had responded strongly early, he likely wouldn’t be facing the choices he is facing right now.

I wholeheartedly agree with the goal of not getting into a war in the Middle East yet again. Yet Biden doesn’t seem to understand that Iran gets a vote in that referendum, and they have chosen to take us on. The only way to get them to back down is to demonstrate strength and a willingness to employ it–to impose costs that Iran doesn’t want to pay.

This isn’t warmongering–just as building up NATO during the Cold War was the opposite of warmongering. There was no major war in Europe during the Cold War because the Soviet Union knew it would pay a price higher than they were willing to pay if they attacked.

The success of that strategy was determined by showing strength early–the Berlin Airlift is a good example. When the US showed weakness–such as when Kennedy let the Berlin Wall go up, the results were horrific–the Cuban Missile Crisis. Weakness creates risks, and strength reduces them.

Biden’s strategy of waiting until Americans die to impose higher costs- and we aren’t sure what the scope of his response will be- created a far more volatile situation than if he had responded massively earlier.

Biden seems to believe that his true enemies are ordinary Americans who don’t support him; he is focused like a laser beam on destroying Trump.

Iran? Not so much. And it is costing lives.

Our leaders are reckless and feckless, creating the riskiest world situation in decades.

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