Unilateral Strikes on Iran Risk Further Catastrophic Escalation

January 29, 2024

J Street mourns the tragic deaths of three US soldiers, and injury to dozens of others, following a drone strike on an American base in Jordan from militant groups operating in Syria and Iraq.

Following this devastating attack, some have called for the Biden Administration to launch a direct military strike on Iran – including many of the same hawkish, right-wing voices who have long pressed the United States to reject diplomacy in favor of war with Iran.

President Biden must reject calls for a military strike and pursue a diplomacy-first policy of de-escalation and deterrence, rather than risk embroiling the United States in yet another catastrophic, unnecessary war of choice in the Middle East. Such a military confrontation would have disastrous, unpredictable consequences for the United States and our allies – including Israel – and would invariably put American soldiers and civilians at even greater risk. As analysts have noted, war with Iran would “almost certainly be substantially worse” than the 2003 US-Iraq war that killed roughly 400,000 people, including more than 4,400 US troops, over the course of eight years.

The intensity of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza continues to fuel instability and retaliation across the region. The Biden Administration and Congress must double-down on diplomacy and pursue carefully calculated deterrence efforts to avoid further escalation and bring a negotiated end to the war in Gaza, paving the way to the release of hostages, an end to the devastation wrought on civilians, and the easing of boiling tensions in the region.