President Biden’s National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, outlines the administration’s approach to recent attacks
The United States remains committed to defending its forces while avoiding a wider war in the Middle East, according to President Biden’s National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan. In a recent interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sullivan emphasized the administration’s straightforward principle of responding to attacks on U.S. forces. However, he also stressed their commitment to not getting pulled into a war, a scenario that has plagued the region in the past.
Responding with force and clarity
Sullivan reiterated that the United States will continue to pursue a dual approach: responding with force and clarity, as demonstrated in the recent strikes, while also avoiding further escalation. He emphasized that the administration will take “further action” but refrained from providing specific details or telegraphing their punches in the conflict.
No ruling in or ruling out
When asked if the United States would consider taking action inside Iran, Sullivan avoided making any definitive statements, citing the need for flexibility. He highlighted that President Biden will make decisions based on what he believes needs to be done to defend American forces, reiterating that the administration is not seeking war.
Responding prior to casualties
Addressing criticism from Republicans who argued that the administration should have responded sooner, Sullivan pointed out that the United States had already taken action multiple times before the tragic events that resulted in three U.S. casualties. Strikes were conducted in both Iraq and Syria against targets linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and militias. Sullivan also highlighted the inconsistency of these criticisms, noting that similar voices were silent during previous administrations when American service members were tragically killed by the same militias.
Iran warns of potential retaliation
In response to recent U.S. strikes in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen targeting Iranian-backed militias, Iran issued a warning to the United States. Tehran expressed concern over two cargo ships, the Behshad and Saviz, which are believed to serve as bases for Iranian commandos. This warning signals Iran’s growing unease regarding the U.S. actions in the region.
Continued steps and preparedness
Sullivan appeared on ABC’s “This Week” and emphasized that the recent strikes were just the beginning of the U.S. response. He stated that there would be more steps taken, some of which may not be visible to the public. Sullivan underscored the need to remain clear-eyed about the possibility of further attacks from Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria, as well as from the Houthis. The administration has instructed military commanders to be prepared to respond to such attacks.
Response to criticism
Sullivan responded to criticism from Senator Ron Johnson, who accused the Biden administration of appeasing Iran. Sullivan clarified that President Biden had made it clear that the United States would respond if attacked. He expressed confidence in the steps taken so far and the course the administration is on. Johnson, on the other hand, argued for a tougher stance on Iran, stating that the United States should make it clear that nothing is off the table.
The United States is navigating a delicate balance between protecting its forces and avoiding a wider war in the Middle East. The administration remains committed to responding to attacks, as demonstrated by recent strikes, while also seeking to de-escalate tensions. As the situation unfolds, the United States will continue to assess and adapt its approach to ensure the safety of its forces and maintain stability in the region.