Senator to Biden: ‘You Can’t Be Pro-Israel and Pro-Iran. You Have to Choose.’
A month ago, the idea of U.S. troops doing live-fire exercises in Iraq would have seemed like something out of 2002. But almost three weeks removed from one of the bloodiest days in the modern Middle East, war is closer than it’s ever been. With more than 18 separate attacks launched at American soldiers last week, it’s clear: Israel is no longer the only target.
“My warning to [Iran],” President Biden said Wednesday, was “be prepared.” “If they continue to move against those troops, we will respond.” Whether the Ayatollah takes the message seriously is anyone’s guess. After all, Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) pointed out, it’s not like this White House’s position has been one of strength.
“Iran does not know if this president has any red lines,” the Kansan argued on “Washington Watch,” “and I’m afraid that they could be right. And that’s why I’m saying we need to retaliate and teach them a lesson. We need to hit the bully across the nose really hard the next time they do anything whatsoever. As long as we have ships in harm’s way, which we do, it’s very possible that one of those drones or one of those underwater attacks get through. So of course, I’m very, very concerned about the situation there.”
And it’s not just Republicans who are sounding the alarm. After 24 Americans were wounded on bases in Iraq and Syria, hard-core Democrats like Senator Chris Coons from the president’s own state have expressed frustration with Biden’s lack of spine. “There needs to be pressure back against Iran,” he insisted to Fox News’s Bret Baier. “… Iran funded, supplied, and trained the fighters of Hamas and is behind these other proxies that are in the north of Israel, in the south of Lebanon, in Yemen, on the Arabian Peninsula, in Iraq. So, we need to be striking back — and we need to be prepared for the very real prospect that this will get harder before it gets easier.”
In conversations with some of the Syrian rebel commanders, Biden’s weakness is only feeding Iran’s aggression. “There has been absolutely no response to these attacks,” one told a Washington Post reporter, “which has resulted in the fact that the Iranian-backed militias are getting much braver.”
Much as this White House has tried, you can’t be “pro-Israel and pro-Iran,” Marshall insisted. “You have to choose one or the other.” But if we think back to what’s happened under Biden, the senator explained, “… [H]e’s empowered their nuclear weapon program. He’s unfrozen this $6 billion [dollars] … three months ago. He unfroze $10 billion [dollars]. And he’s now allowing them to sell $1 billion [dollars] of oil every week.” Under this administration, Iran’s reserves have climbed from $6 billion dollars to $60 billion dollars.
“This is what’s happening under Joe Biden’s watch,” Marshall shook his head. “He’s allowed Iran to once again be a force, to be a power. And again … You have to choose Israel or you have to choose Iran. Iran is the one that says, ‘Death to Israel. Death to America.’”
If Biden doesn’t act, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins asked, could we see this escalate into a “global conflict?”
“Absolutely,” Marshall answered. “We’re [all] looking [for] some type of clarity from this president, some type of priorities. [No one understands] what the president’s priorities [are] under this situation. To me, the priorities should be very, very clear. Number one, we want to get all the Americans back safely. We need to secure our southern border. By the way, we need to cut the head off the snake of Iran, and we need to eliminate Hamas. … We need a president who’s going to put our first, our best, best foot forward to stand with peace through strength.”
Frankly, Perkins pointed out, “I wish this president had the same clarity on issues such as this, as he does for abortion, the whole LGBTQ agenda, and climate change. [Those seem] to be the only three issues this administration has clarity on. It’s frightening.”
And look, the senator replied, we’re not “warmongers.” “I don’t want this war,” he admitted. “But let’s face it — over the next days, weeks, and months, it’s going to get really ugly there in the Gaza Strip. And Israel needs to know that we have their back, that unequivocally we’re going to stand with them.”
Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.