Biden Now Dealing with Second War he didn’t want. He Needs to Contain It.

US policy in the Middle East can no longer be described as an attempt to stop the Israel-Gaza conflict from triggering a bigger regional war. That hope died weeks ago.

The critical task now for President Joe Biden — as he mulls retaliation over the deaths of three Americans in an attack by suspected Iranian proxy forces in Jordan Sunday – is to prevent that region-wide war from tipping out of control.

It is indisputable that the United States is again embroiled in a war in the wider Middle East, less than three years after Biden officially decreed the end of a two-decade-long combat mission in Iraq that exhausted the US and caused deep political trauma.

It is also clear that the Biden administration’s effort to prevent an escalation is not working. US strikes against Iranian-backed militia throughout the region, which followed more than 160 attacks on American military facilities, did not deter Sunday’s drone strike. And missile and drone attacks against commercial shipping in the Red Sea haven’t stopped despite rolling US airstrikes against their launch sites and infrastructure in Yemen.

So Biden has now arrived at the unenviable position that presidents often face when all potential options before them are bad and the very task of seeking to slow a deepening crisis may end up exacerbating it.

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