This quote from English playwright, Williams Shakespeare has never been much truer than it is now, looking at the U.S’ dilemma amid a simmering Middle East chaos.
U.S President, Joe Biden is under pressure from Republicans to strike Iran directly, and even bomb Tehran, after three U.S troops were killed and dozens wounded in a drone attack on a military outpost in Jordan.
US forces have faced a near-daily barrage of drone and missile strikes in Iraq and Syria since the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas.
However, the attack on Tower 22 draws the U.S much closer to a direct conflict with Iran, an outcome both sides insist they wish to avoid, but may now be unable to prevent as the incidents escalate.
The White House’s national security council spokesperson, John Kirby, said that the U.S response to the drone strike on a US military outpost in Jordan will be “very consequential,” adding that Biden “is considering his response options.”
He said the drone attack was unacceptable, “But we don’t seek a war with Iran. We’re not looking for a wider conflict in the Middle East.”
Concerns now weigh heavily on Biden.
Biden will now choose from a menu of options and consider the dilemma of how far to go to restore deterrence, while balancing the desire to end the open season on US positions across the Middle East with the avoidance of a head-on American-Iranian war.
The region is already a battlefield, with a US-led coalition exchanging fire with Tehran-backed Houthis in Yemen, and the threat of an Israeli-Hezbollah war in Lebanon.
Any escalation in the Gulf will trigger a spike in oil prices and global inflation that would be far more damaging to the President’s re-election prospects than some name-calling from Republican senators.
Nicholas Heras, senior director for the strategy and innovation at the New Lines Institute in Washington, said: “The Biden administration is locked into a difficult position because senior members of the administration want to continue to pivot to competing with China in Asia and confronting Russia in Europe while not seeming to be backing down to Iran in the Middle East.”
That balance has become increasingly hard to maintain, Heras added. “The situation in the region is metastasising rapidly toward a face-off between the United States and Iran, which has been years in the making,” he said.
There may well have been US covert military operations in Iran since the Islamic revolution of 1979, but never an overt strike.
Trump came the closest, ordering strikes on Iran with missiles and warplanes in June 2019 in retaliation for the downing of a US drone, but he rescinded the launch order with 10 minutes to go.
He said he changed his mind because of the estimated civilian casualties and the consequent risk of an all out U.S-Iran war.
Blinken Says Middle East Situation More Dangerous Than In 1973
U.S Secretary of State, Antony Blinken said the situation in the Middle East is more dangerous than it has been for decades.
“I would argue that we have not seen a situation as dangerous as the one we’re facing now across the region since at least 1973. And arguably, even before that,” Blinken said at a joint news conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Washington.
“That is the environment in which we’re operating,” Blinken was reported as saying.
In 1973, the war known to Israelis as Yom Kippur and to Arabs as the October War started when Egypt and Syria launched a two-front attack on Israel to regain their territories lost in the 1967 Six Day War, when Israel captured the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt and Syria’s Golan Heights.
Israel also seized large parts of historic Palestine, including the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in 1967.
Egypt regained control of Sinai but Syria’s Golan Heights remains occupied by Israel.
The Palestinian territories are also still occupied to this day by Israeli forces.