Usually, when one starts a column about a subject that’s going to be critical, the thoughtful thing to do would be to find a nugget, a kernel of good that can be cited in order to soften the harshness of the analysis to come.
Upon reflection of the foreign policy side of Joe Biden’s tenure as president thus far, it’s a good thing that the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem has not been re-relocated back to Tel Aviv. He’s also rhetorically backed Israel’s right to defend itself, even if he’s done nothing but attempt to undermine Israel and equivocate at every turn in order to placate the rising anti-Semitic wing of the Democratic Party.
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The President has been on the right side of the Russia incursion into Ukraine, albeit very slow to react to the situation on the ground and responding with tangible assistance the United States could provide Kyiv in a timely fashion. And forget about the moral case that needs to continually be made to the American public for why this is in our national interest. That case has not just been slow, it’s never been made coherently by this administration.
I’ve now exhausted the hat tips available to Joe Biden. Simply put, the foreign policy side of Joe Biden’s administration has been an unmitigated disaster, in part because it’s not so much Biden making bad foreign policy decisions as what we’re seeing unfold to date is what Barack Obama’s third term would look like.
Three days after Iran-controlled Hamas launched its wave of horror on Southern Israel, Joe Biden from the White House offered this vague, nebulous warning to an unnamed Iran.
It might have been more effective if he had mentioned to whom the “Don’t” deterrence strategy was referring, but it of course was Iran. He followed that up five days later with another equally stern “Don’t” on 60 Minutes with Scott Pelley.
60 Minutes: “What is your message to Hezbollah and its backer, Iran?”
BIDEN: “Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t”
This is what happens when Joe Biden tries to act tough and yet his actions are anything but.
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) October 15, 2023
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has repeated the doctrine of “Don’t”. So has Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, as has White House Press Secretary for issues that are too important for a moron to answer, John Kirby. It’s “Don’t” or bust, apparently.
So what have Iranian proxies all over the region done in response to “Don’t”? Consistently attacked U.S. personnel, equipment, and interests all over the Middle East.
After initially ignoring and/or downplaying the increased malign attacks, the Biden White House finally decided they had to respond in the most forceful way possible – by attacking a couple of broom closets used by Iranian proxies in Syria.
The strikes were followed up by the renewed “Don’t” doctrine. This was this administration’s version of FAFO.
On Wednesday, Iran decided to test out the President’s resolve by ordering the Houthis in Yemen, who could not dress themselves, let alone arm, train, and operate a surface to air missile launcher without direction from Tehran, took out one of our surveillance MQ-9 Reaper drones. Those go for about $30 million dollars each, and is very clearly an escalation by Iran as the war in Gaza enters month two.
At the White House Wednesday morning, as news of the drone shootdown broke, John Kirby had this to say.
NSC spokesman John Kirby confirms there’s been further attacks on U.S. troops in the Middle East without any American response or deterrence: pic.twitter.com/1B0JvrOXNg
— Conservative War Machine (@WarMachineRR) November 7, 2023
Excuse me, but the line that ‘they haven’t hurt anyone yet, so they have to be more careful, or else…’, that is not a coherent deterrence strategy. And it’s got the additional baggage of not being true. We’ve had dozens of troops injured because of Iranian-backed attacks since October 7th.
Kirby is not telling the truth, and is outlining a policy of continuing to use our personnel in the Middle East as pawns, and hoping that no one gets killed.
After the attack on September 11th, George W. Bush changed U.S. policy to a policy of preemption. If you threaten our people, we will hunt you down and kill you before you have the chance to carry out the threat. That was largely the policy until Barack Obama began to go back to a strategy of waiting around until our people get people killed, and then we’ll sorta have to respond…ish, so as not to look weak domestically in political polls. Donald Trump renewed the preemption doctrine, and now Joe Biden has gone back to a policy of reactionary moves so as not to disrupt the appeasement line of communication and money transfers to terrorists in Iran.
But the Find Out part of FAFO took place this afternoon, as The U.S. scrambled two F-15’s and took out an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps weapons shed in Syria. Fox News Pentagon reporter Jennifer Griffin with the details.
Two U.S. F-15’s carried out an airstrike on an IRGC affiliated facility in Syria, responding to 42 attacks on U.S. bases since Oct 17. The target was a weapons storage facility. Defense Secretary Austin said the U.S. military will take further action if attacks continue. pic.twitter.com/PQZsMZmrBv
— Liz Friden (@Liz_Friden) November 8, 2023
If you were to try to demonstrate how not to really deter someone while trying to show you are serious about deterrence, this would be how to do it. If this were to be construed as a serious response, we wouldn’t have taken out a shed. We would have blown up a chunk of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, including their current commander. We certainly at the very least should have removed the Houthis not just from their Iranian-supplied weaponry, but removed them from their mortal coils as well.
You have to wonder what delusion the Biden administration national security and foreign policy team are convincing themselves of if they think this latest move is going to cause Ayatollah Khamenei to rethink his entire Middle East strategy. Iran is not going to cease and desist because of this attack on a weapons storage building.
Actually, you don’t have to wonder for very long, because Iran has already responded…with four more attacks.
NEW: 3 attacks against US troops in Syria, 1 in Iraq since US F15s carried out airstrikes against IRGC warehouse. https://t.co/0bR02kNdCD
— Jennifer Griffin (@JenGriffinFNC) November 9, 2023
What we’re seeing now is not deterrence. It’s certainly not the Chicago Way.