Pressure Mounts on Biden To Confront Iran After Drone Strike Kills US Soldiers

Republicans slam Biden for 'doctrine of appeasement' toward Iran

(Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
January 29, 2024

The Biden administration is under immense pressure from Republicans and some Democrats in Congress to confront Iran and its terror proxies following a weekend drone strike by Tehran’s terrorist proxies that killed 3 U.S. service members and wounded 25 more.

Republican foreign policy leaders quickly blamed President Joe Biden’s "doctrine of appeasement" towards Iran for the most recent strike in Jordan, which follows months of Tehran-orchestrated attacks on American and Western forces in the region in the wake of Israel’s war against Hamas. Key Democrats are also beginning to express concerns about the administration’s tepid response thus far to Iran’s increasingly deadly strikes, with Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.) saying the weekend drone attack is "an escalation and cannot go unanswered."

Amid this pressure, the White House is signaling it has no desire to directly confront Tehran, with national security adviser John Kirby telling NBC this morning, "We are not looking for war with Iran." Biden said on Sunday the United States would "hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner of our choosing," but no concrete details have emerged since then.

Iran’s terror proxies—including the Houthi rebels in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and militant factions in Iraq and Syria—have been targeting U.S. forces and Western assets in the region for months, drawing limited retaliatory attacks from the American military.

While it is clear Tehran is orchestrating the attack spree in response to U.S. support for Israel’s war against Hamas, the Biden administration has repeatedly indicated it is not interested in directly targeting Iran’s hardline regime. But with three soldiers now dead, Republicans in particular blame Biden for emboldening Tehran through a policy of appeasement that has included rolling back sanctions and providing the hardline regime with billions in cash windfalls—money that is used to fund the terror proxies currently attacking Americans.

"President Biden’s fear of escalation has morphed into a doctrine of appeasement. The weakness shown by this administration emboldens our enemies," Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Ala.), chair of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement. "The idea that appeasement will lead to better actions by states and terror groups is profoundly wrong. The consequences of American weakness on the world stage are on full display."

Sen. James Risch (R., Idaho), ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also blamed "the Biden Administration’s weak policies" for producing "this dangerous situation."

"We must permanently freeze funds, enforce oil sanctions, and restore credible deterrence," Risch said. "Americans at home and our troops in the field deserve an Iran policy that protects them and U.S. interests. Inaction only serves to fuel Iran and its proxies further."

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), also a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, blamed the Biden administration for championing diplomacy with Tehran that has resulted in sanctions being dismantled and Iran’s proxies free to attack American positions in the Middle East.

In addition to allowing Iran to make billions of dollars in oil profits, the Biden administration removed Yemen’s Houthi rebels from the U.S. terror list upon taking office, killing a key pressure point on the group. Since war broke out in October, the Houthis have been a central irritant in the region, launching ballistic missile strikes on U.S. targets and choking off international shipping lanes.

"Biden funded this; understand [that] Joe Biden is responsible for flowing roughly $100 billion to the Iranian regime to the Ayatollah, to the mullahs," Cruz said in the latest episode of his podcast. "That is funding these attacks. The October seventh attack on Israel, murdered [sic] over 1,200 Israelis, was among the worst terror attacks in the history of the United States with the Americans who were murdered. Joe Biden, in a very real sense, funded that as well."

Iran’s proxy groups have conducted more than 150 attacks on American troops since October but have not faced a significant U.S. response, according to Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

"The Biden administration’s failed Middle East policy has destroyed our deterrence against adversaries in the Middle East," McCaul said. "We need a major reset of our Middle East policy to protect our national security interests and restore deterrence."