“We do not seek another war. We do not seek to escalate. But we will absolutely do what is required to protect ourselves to continue that mission and to respond appropriately to these attacks…We will respond. We’ll do that on our schedule,” White House National Security Spokesman John Kirby stated.
Iran isn’t afraid of escalating. Its leaders and spokesmen don’t constantly express their fear of escalation. Instead, they escalate.
Their Jihadists seize control of shipping in the Red Sea. They invade Israel and kill over a thousand people. They hit a U.S. base inside Jordan.
The obsessions with “escalation” or “proportionate responses” are foolish. A military action is a tool. The question is what is the goal that this tool is accomplishing?
I can’t think of anything proportionate responses by a stronger nation reacting to aggression accomplish. In some conditions, such a response may maintain a balance of terror, but against an enemy who is constantly escalating, they clearly don’t work.
At best (and this is debatable) they may serve as some sort of brake slowing down the level of enemy escalation. But that’s also senseless.
When faced with escalating attacks, you can choose to withdraw from the arena of action (if possible, and this is also debatable) or if you have the capability, you either defeat the enemy or escalate beyond their ability to respond.
The Biden administration is once again choosing to do none of these things. Instead, it’s going to put on a show of responding in what it considers to be a proportionate way that is in theory meant to dissuade Iran from further attacks, but that clearly is not working.
And will never work.
When the enemy is afraid of escalating and you aren’t, the enemy has a problem. When you’re afraid of escalating and the enemy isn’t, you have a problem.
The goal of a balance of terror is to move from the latter to the former. Instead, Biden has moved us from the former to the latter.