(WATCH) To Attack Iran

The murder of three American soldiers recently at a remote base in Jordan is heightening tensions and increasing the prospect of wider Mideast war. The attack, by an Islamic extremist, Iran-backed group, set off immediate calls for a strong U.S. military response, but could that send America into a new war with Iran? Lisa Fletcher spent the week gauging the mood on Capitol Hill.

The following is a transcript of a report from “Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson.” Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.

The Mideast conflict changing gears Friday night, with multiple U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. The Pentagon said it hit more than 85 targets, including command and control centers for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. U.S. Air Force B-1 Lancer bombers making the long, round-trip flight from Texas to hit their targets.

The American strike, a retaliation for the attack by the Iran -backed group that killed three U.S. soldiers at a remote base in Jordan. 

As the tensions in the region rose last week, so did the political pressure in Washington, where a steady chorus of Republicans called on President Biden to take decisive military action.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): So, Mr. President, hit Iran, and hit them now, and hit them hard to protect Americans in harm’s way.

Speaking before Friday night’s airstrikes, Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott summed up the mood of many on Capitol Hill.

Lisa: The president has been strongly criticized for his approach to the Middle East. Do you think he’s on the right path?

Sen. Rick Scott: No. I mean, first off, we have no idea what path he’s on. We know that he has been weak with regard to Iran.

But as the president considered his options and calculated what response to make against Iran, he also heard from lawmakers who wanted him to take care America doesn’t escalate the conflict into a full war.

Rep. Seth Moulton: What I learned, especially serving in the Middle East, is that it’s an incredibly complicated place where nothing is black and white, and you really need to be smart, thoughtful, and strategic about how you choose to respond. 

Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts served four tours in Iraq as a Marine Corps officer. He’s now on the Armed Services Committee.

Lisa: What was your first thought when you heard that this militia group had attacked and killed U.S. soldiers?

Rep. Moulton: My first thought was that Republicans are going to politicize this and demand an attack on Iran, which could literally play into our enemy’s hands, could start a wider war in the Middle East.

Lisa: So you said, deterrence is hard; war is worse. I’m not sure that we’ve found the magical formula to deter ideologically-based groups in the Middle East. What’s your suggestion?

Rep. Moulton: We haven’t — I mean, that’s just the honest truth. And some of my Republican colleagues who are criticizing this administration actually served in past administrations, where they couldn’t figure this out either. At the end of the day, let’s make sure that we do everything we can to protect U.S. forces and U.S. interests, everything we can to diminish the power of our enemies, but not play into their hands in a way that could literally start a war that none of us want.

The White House has stressed that however hard it hits back at Iran’s forces and proxy groups targeting America, it doesn’t seek or want a wider Middle East war.

Lloyd Austin / Defense Secretary: The president will not tolerate attacks on American troops. And neither will I. This is a dangerous moment in the Middle East. We will continue to work to avoid a wider conflict in the region. But we will take all necessary actions to defend the United States, our interests, and our people. 

Senator Scott believes it’s important for the U.S. president to show clear global leadership whenever there’s a crisis.

Sen. Scott: The president of the United States has to be the world leader that says, Russia is a problem, China is a problem, North Korea is a problem, the Ayatollah is a problem. How are we going to deal with these regimes as a group? They’re pariahs. We’re going to deal with them as a group. It’s not just a one-off.

Lisa: Does President Biden have the ability to do that?

Sen. Scott: If you look at history, he doesn’t. I would not know what his foreign policy is. I mean, I’d have no earthly idea.

Moulton, with his deep experience in Mideast combat, says America’s response needs to be, above all, thoughtful.

Lisa: How careful does the U.S. have to be in terms of its response, whether it is going after the proxies or going directly after Tehran?

Rep. Moulton: You know, in some ways, I don’t like the word “careful,” because it suggests that we should be cautious, and I don’t want to be cautious here. I want to send a clear, decisive, strong message that this behavior will not be tolerated, but we’ve got to be smart. We’ve got to be smart about how we respond, do it on our timeline, under our terms, and really think carefully about how to send the exact right message, not just to these militia groups, but to Iranian leadership in Tehran.

With the conflict entering a new phase, there is the expectation U.S. forces will continue to face Iranian-sponsored attacks. The White House has made it clear it will respond with force. For Full Measure, I’m Lisa Fletcher, in Washington.

Lisa (on-camera): And it’s worth remembering that there have been more than 160 attacks against U.S. military forces in the region in the last three months. Now this is the first one that caused U.S. American military casualties. But since October, we’ve seen attacks almost daily by Iran’s proxies.

Sharyl: Now there are some who say, and always seem to say, that the president needs congressional approval to take certain further action. What is the thought?

Lisa: Right. And the White House says they have all the authorization right now that they need. What we heard very clearly from Senator Scott, who’s on the Intelligence Committee, is that he and his colleagues are not getting the information and the briefings that they need.

Sharyl: Thanks, Lisa.

Watch video here.

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2 thoughts on “(WATCH) To Attack Iran”

  1. Thomas Joseph Hussman

    The Middle East expert Mr. Moulton wants it both ways. First he said nobody has the Middle East figured out. Then he said he wanted a “smart” response to the killing of the three soldiers in Jordan. If nobody has the Middle East figured out, how do you propose to make a “smart” response? He is talking from both sides of his mouth. Moulton has no clue what to do, nor does Biden. First of all, why is there a remote base in Jordan without adequate defense capacity? Any US Base should be strong and capable of defending itself from all attacks, or it shouldn’t exist. The best thing USA politicians could do at this point is to shut up. The military leaders know what to do – Let them !

  2. If Iran sneezes in our direction – or someone supposedly funded by Iran – the war drummers start beating. They’ve been beating the War with Iran drums for a very long time. Another in a long line of manufactured crises by our overlords.

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