The Restrained Global Power

America cannot let the attack on its forces in Jordan go unanswered. But the ongoing election campaign will influence the nature of the response.

The fact that air defense for an outpost in Jordan was clearly too late in noticing the drone attack does not paint the American military in a good light. But first, even the best armed forces are not immune to something like that. Second, it does not change the political explosiveness of the event. Three American soldiers were killed, dozens wounded and the attack can probably be ascribed to militants loyal to Iran.

Familiar Patterns

A global power cannot afford to let such an affront go unanswered. It would invite America’s enemies to undertake similar actions, and not only in the Middle East. Thus, the Biden administration indicated early that there would be a response.

But that response will take place in the year of a closely contested election, and that is revealing familiar patterns. The old hawks among the Republicans are calling for strikes against targets in Iran, and Republican candidate Nikki Haley is demanding the killing of Iranian leaders. That is not improving her chances against Donald Trump, who is hiding behind his standard argument that none of it would have even happened if he were president. He is appealing to a yearning to withdraw from the world political stage that is shared not only among his voting base.

Biden, too, became president by promising to end the United States’ foreign wars. For that reason alone, he will continue the effort to avoid further escalation in the Middle East.

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