It dawns early in the desert. At five in the morning on Sunday at the American military base “Tower 22” on the border of Jordan and Syria, everyone was asleep except those on duty. When a low-flying drone appeared from behind the dunes gilded by the morning sun, no one was alarmed: the operators were expecting their own UAV to return from a mission. But they were mistaken: the drone, flying over the barbed wire, crashed into a residential module and exploded. As a result, three servicemen were killed and more than 40 were injured of varying degrees of severity. Many had to be evacuated to a medical center in Baghdad, some were sent even further to Germany for treatment. The base itself was, if not destroyed, then seriously drained of blood: before the attack, its personnel numbered about 350 people.

Sunday's attack on Tower 22 was the most serious incident since the deaths of 13 US Marines at Kabul airport in the final days of the US flight from Afghanistan. It also forced the Pentagon to admit something it would rather remain silent about: Since October 7, there have been more than 160 attacks against American soldiers across the Middle East. As a result, more than 120 US Army personnel were wounded - an impressive figure in itself, and given the strict safety protocols developed by army bureaucrats, almost fantastic.

“I don’t think this was intended as an escalation,” one US official told CNN. “It’s the same type of attack they’ve done 163 times already, they just got lucky on the 164th.”

But even if CNN’s interlocutor is right, then on January 28 something happened that the White House had been afraid of since the very beginning of the war between Israel and Hamas: the American military still became its victims. And now the Biden administration is simply forced to react somehow, although a new conflict with unclear prospects in an election year is the last thing Washington needs.

Donald Trump was perhaps the first to react to the Jordanian incident. “Three years ago, Iran was weak, defeated and completely under control. Thanks to my policy of maximum pressure, the Iranian regime could barely scrape together a couple of dollars to finance its proxy terrorists,” the former president wrote on his social network Truth Social. “Then Joe Biden came and gave Iran billions of dollars, which the regime used to cause bloodshed and carnage throughout the Middle East.” Of course, Trump took the opportunity to remind his followers: “This attack would NEVER have happened if I were president, not even a chance. Just as the Iranian-backed Hamas attack on Israel would never have happened, the war in Ukraine would never have happened, and we would now have world peace. Instead, we are on the verge of a third world war."

But if Trump limited himself to criticizing Biden, other Republicans are demanding immediate and brutal revenge from the US President for the murder of American soldiers.

“The only response to these attacks must be a devastating military response against Iranian terrorist forces—both in Iran and in the Middle East,” said Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, a former U.S. Army officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Anything less will only confirm that Joe Biden is a coward unfit to be commander in chief.”

The main Republican hawk, Lindsey Graham, is no less bloodthirsty (the same one who, during his visit to Kyiv, talked about killing Russians as the best investment of American money). “Hit Iran now,” he urged on social media X. “Hit them hard!” And his colleague Senator John Cornyn of Texas caused some excitement on Capitol Hill by writing on his page “The target is Tehran!” (he was later forced to explain that he did not mean bombing civilians).

However, the bellicose attitude of Republican senators caused ridicule even among conservatives. Well-known radio host Jesse Kelly asked Graham with a mocking question: “Who do you think is going to fight this war for you? We all know you won’t be the one getting your hands dirty.” And the famous journalist Tucker Carlson (whom some are tipping to be Trump's vice president) reacted to Graham and Cornyn's escapades even more expressively: “F*****g lunatics!”

In fact, only politicians who have completely lost touch with reality can demand that Washington start a war with Iran.

With the outbreak of the war between Israel and Hamas, the US position in the region did not strengthen, but, on the contrary, weakened. The Biden administration's frantic attempts to influence the Netanyahu government time after time end in shameful failures for the White House. In the eyes of Middle Eastern rulers - especially the Gulf royal houses - the American president looks like a helpless old man surrounded by unqualified advisers.

At the same time, Iran, thanks to its thoughtful and cautious policy, has achieved a serious strengthening of its positions and expansion of influence. Having spent many years building a Middle Eastern “axis of resistance”, investing billions of dollars in its regional proxies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Ansar Allah in Yemen, as well as militant groups in Iraq and Syria, Tehran is now benefiting from these investments. benefit.

Continuous attacks on US military bases are forcing the White House to develop plans for a complete withdrawal of troops from Syria. And the Iraqi government bluntly demands that American troops leave this country (the first round of negotiations on the withdrawal of the forces of the so-called international coalition to fight ISIS* took place in Baghdad on January 27, just before the attack on Tower 22). The coalition to fight the Houthis in the Red Sea suffers failure after failure: despite all the efforts of the West, Ansar Allah continues to successfully terrorize not only civilian ships transporting cargo to Israel, but also American warships (the mysterious death of two Navy SEALs allegedly off the coast Somalia is very similar to the smokescreen with which the US Navy is trying to hide the successful Houthi attack from the public).

All this taken together creates a zugzwang situation for Biden and his administration - a situation in which each subsequent move leads to a deterioration in the position. On Sunday, Biden said he would definitely respond to the strikes, and on Monday, White House National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby reiterated this promise, but clarified that Washington would not rush. “We are not seeking a new war. We are not seeking escalation. But we will absolutely do everything necessary,” Kirby told reporters. It sounded unconvincing.

According to Politico, which cited two anonymous White House officials, Biden has ordered his advisers to present a range of options for a U.S. response that "would decisively deter new attacks without further inflaming the smoldering region." Easy to say, but difficult to do. CNN analysts suggest that the Biden administration may decide to again strike at pro-Iranian groups in Iraq and Syria, as well as attempt to eliminate their leadership (this last happened on January 5). The option of a cyber attack on Iranian servers is also being considered. Washington's revenge will not necessarily be limited to one country or one day: according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the US response "could be multi-layered, gradual and lengthy."

The problem, however, is that Biden doesn't have much time at his disposal. Everyone knows the Spanish saying that revenge is best served cold, but now every day of delay is taking a toll on the US President. A weak president cannot count on re-election, and Biden is almost literally repeating the fate of Jimmy Carter, who lost to Reagan, also with the help of Tehran. At the time Carter unsuccessfully tried to free American hostages in Iran, Biden was already a senator, so the current situation should be very familiar to him. And he, of course, understands that everything that advisers can offer him is only half-measures that will not stop new attacks on American troops in the region. And what Republican hawks are pushing him to do could turn into a much larger disaster, not only for him personally, but also for the United States. And even for the whole world.

* “Islamic State” (IS, ISIS) is an organization recognized as terrorist by the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation dated December 29, 2014.

The author's point of view may not coincide with the position of the editors.