Lucas Leiroz, research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
In Washington, military plans for the Middle East are unclear. Biden's aggressive speech has remained the same since his election campaign, with a strong inclination to guarantee American interests in that region. However, Secretary of State Antony Blinken made statements saying that there is currently no American interest in carrying out operations and interventions that are too expensive. Meanwhile, the American escalation in northeastern Syria continues and creates uncertainty for the future.
After the attack on the Ain al-Asad base in Iraq, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said: "If we assess a further response is warranted, we will take action again in a manner and time of our choosing". The pronouncement is curious when we consider Blinken's promises. Would responses be necessary for an attack that left virtually no victims? It is necessary to emphasize that the attack on the American base in Iraq did not happen by chance. Previously, on February 25, American forces bombed installations of an Iraqi Shiite militia in Syria. Still, several mutual attacks have been reported for a long time, and the March 3 attack was certainly the mildest and most harmless of all. However, the American rhetoric from now on will be that this attack "justifies" new measures - such "justification" is simply due to the exaggerated media attention given to the case.
According to most experts, an American response would certainly be carried out through a new attack on enemy bases installed in Syria. The attacks outside Syria are, most of the time, exceptional measures, since it is in Syria that strategic movements occur most frequently. But, until "the great response" is announced, the US has already carried out new attacks in Syria - and no media attention was paid to this in the West. The targets of the most recent attacks were the Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada militias. The number of victims of the retaliation is still uncertain.
Meanwhile, on the American domestic political scenario, there is a strong outcry for tougher and more effective measures against Washington's enemies in the US. In particular, radical Democrats claim that the attack is clearly financed and led by Iran. The State Department, having to deal with strategic rather than ideological issues, avoid taking impetuous actions and this causes irritation among globalists. Globalists supported Biden on the basis of his promises to safeguard Western agendas across the planet - and they are really demanding this from the new government. For some representatives of the American elite, Biden has been ineffective so far.
In a recent NBC News article, Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, says: " 'We’re not going to prejudge.' State Department spokesperson Ned Price deployed this classic Washington euphemism last week to avoid responding to a question over how much culpability Iran and its Shiite militias bear for recent rocket attacks against a US military base in northern Iraq. (…) Why is the Biden administration not connecting the dots between the Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies — and not doing more to publicly deter this behavior? Is it simply that the new administration is still finding its feet after just one month in office?"
This clash brings us back to the question that all the experts asked when Biden's promises were made: does Washington really have the strength to recover its global hegemony? The ideologically elite with the mission of "bringing (the American way of) democracy" to all parts of the world cries out for endless wars, interventions, sanctions, blockades, and retaliation. Those who actually operate such measures call for calm and claim for an end to overly expensive operations that only cause stress to the troops and take the lives of Americans away. This clash will not end anytime soon. The ideological part of the government is committed to objectives that require measures that they cannot operate alone - and those able to operate such measures visibly want to avoid them because they know their real conditions and know that every care is necessary when it comes to military operations.
However, the military also wants to respond - its only difference for Democrats is that they recognize their real conditions for action. The American military presence in northeastern Syria is increasing day by day. On March 6, American aircraft landed at the Al-Shaddadah military base carrying about 20 boxes containing missiles. New soldiers also disembarked there. Visibly, violence will escalate in the region and there are no good expectations for the near future.
While Democrats are calling for action against Iran, the military is likely to be concerned with increasing violence in Syria as a proxy war against Tehran and Shi'ite militias. The ideological wing of the Biden government will have to conform to material reality and understand that the current circumstances do not allow for a general increase in the American power of aggression.
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