Amidst mounting tensions following a deadly drone strike on American troops in Jordan, Democratic California Congresswoman Barbara Lee, currently running for Senate, has called on President Joe Biden to exercise restraint and reject the growing chorus for military intervention against Iran. Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress are clamoring for a U.S. attack in retaliation for the recent drone strike in northeastern Jordan that claimed the lives of three soldiers and left dozens wounded.
As President Biden weighs the U.S. response to the attack, Barbara Lee, known for her historic opposition to expansive war powers, urges caution. Lee stated, “I am heartbroken by the loss of the three American service members killed in Jordan… These attacks make clear that Iran is taking advantage of the chaos triggered by the October 7 attacks,” referring to the recent Hamas-led assault on Israel.
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq (IRI), a coalition of Shia Islamist militant groups, claimed responsibility for the drone strike, citing U.S. support for Israel as a motive for their actions. Despite Iran’s backing of the IRI, Tehran denies direct involvement in the attack. The Biden administration, conceding it lacks evidence linking Tehran to the drone strike, faces increasing pressure from both sides of the aisle to take military action.
Republican Senator Tom Cotton has called for “devastating military retaliation against Iran’s terrorist forces,” blaming President Biden’s policies for the soldiers’ deaths. However, Lee argues that the path to peace does not lie in war and emphasizes the need for a different approach.
Lee, who famously stood as the sole dissenting vote against expansive war powers after the 9/11 attacks, asserts that any decision for military retaliation must involve Congress. In the absence of clear evidence linking Iran to the attack, she warns against succumbing to calls for war, advocating for diplomacy and a regional de-escalation approach.
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“The path forward to peace and security throughout the region is dependent on a cessation of hostilities in Gaza,” Lee emphasizes. Her call for de-escalation aligns with the broader plea for a change in U.S. policy in the Middle East, especially in light of the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Israeli forces continue their relentless assault, resulting in thousands of casualties, predominantly among women and children, and the destruction of tens of thousands of buildings.
Peace groups echo Lee’s sentiments, urging a shift away from militarism. Win Without War president Stephen Miles criticizes Biden’s current Middle East policy, arguing that it is not working and calls for a change in direction to protect U.S. troops and save lives. Miles rejects the voices in Washington advocating for war with Iran, asserting that their track record of supporting endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan proves their fallibility.
“The only genuine path to significantly reducing the current spasm of violence in the Middle East is securing an immediate cease-fire in Gaza,” Miles contends. He emphasizes the urgency of negotiating the release of hostages in Gaza and fostering regional diplomacy for broader de-escalation.
As the Biden administration navigates these complex geopolitical challenges, the voices advocating for a diplomatic solution and a departure from perpetual warfare emphasize the need for a nuanced, strategic approach to ensure lasting peace and stability in the Middle East. The decision President Biden makes in response to the recent events will undoubtedly shape the trajectory of U.S. foreign policy in the region and its implications for global security.