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How the US and Iran Could End Up in a War They Don’t Want

2024-02-03 14:49:42       source:Politico

February 3, 2024

Can two nations that don’t really want a full-scale war — in fact believe it could be disastrous — find themselves slip-sliding toward one anyway as events escalate inevitably beyond their ability to stop it?

Absolutely. It’s a problem that goes back at least to the Peloponnesian War 2,500 years ago — when the Athenians hurtled toward their doom — and now it’s an issue that both President Joe Biden and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, are openly grappling with in the Middle East.

On Friday, Biden launched a broad series of military strikes in retaliation for the Jan. 28 drone attack by an Iranian-aligned militant group that killed three U.S. soldiers and wounded more than 40 others. But the president also clearly said that he’s trying to deter Tehran without provoking a full-scale war, and it was notable that the retaliatory strikes were aimed at the facilities of proxy groups outside of Iran, in Iraq and Syria. Asked by reporters Tuesday how directly Iran was involved in the Jan. 28 attack, Biden replied, “We’ll have that discussion,” and he clarified, “I do hold them responsible in the sense that they’re supplying the weapons to the people who did it.” Biden also added: “I don’t think we need a wider war in the Middle East. That’s not what I’m looking for.”

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