Already a member? Log In

The Biden-Iran Retaliation Equation

The Biden administration, of course, has been trying to prevent the escalating violence from spiraling into all-out regional war.
The Biden administration, of course, has been trying to prevent the escalating violence from spiraling into all-out regional war. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
Julia Ioffe
January 30, 2024

If you feel like we’re on the verge of World War III, you’re not the only one. Over the weekend, three American service members were killed and dozens injured by a drone strike on Tower 22, an American military outpost in northeast Jordan. Apparently, the lack of anti-aircraft defense was due to a mixup: The enemy drone, allegedly launched by an Iran-backed militia, was approaching the American base at the same time that an American drone was heading home, and, mistaking the latter for the former, the U.S. military didn’t shoot it down. 

In the four months since October 7, Iran has been using the Israel-Hamas war as the perfect excuse to foment chaos and assert its dominance, with its proxies mounting constant attacks on U.S. troops in the Middle East and on international container ships passing through the Red Sea. The Biden administration, of course, has been trying to prevent the escalating violence from spiraling into all-out regional war—stopping it, for example, from exploding in such a way that Americans would be killed and their government would be forced to respond in a more, well, forceful way.