USA Today, February 2021
Pentagon airstrikes against Iran-backed militias in Syria are not only the first military action taken by President Joe Biden. They are a test of his broad pledge to pursue a foreign policy that is more cooperative and mindful of international partners than his predecessor’s but still eschews the U.S. role as the world’s police to focus on making life better for Americans, some experts and lawmakers say.
Biden on Thursday night ordered the airstrikes on multiple facilities at a Syrian-Iraqi border control point in southeastern Syria in retaliation for rocket attacks on U.S. targets in neighboring Iraq. The Pentagon identified the targets as a “number of Iranian-backed militant groups including Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada.” It called the airstrikes “proportionate” and “defensive” and said the airstrikes were taken after consultation with coalition partners and unspecified “diplomatic measures.”
The military action comes as Washington and Tehran are locked in apparent stalemate over who should take the first step to revitalize a nuclear deal exited by the Trump administration; as Biden has vowed to recalibrate national security actions to favor the middle class; and as reporting from USA TODAY has revealed the voluminous scale of U.S. overseas military bases and counterterror operations two decades after 9/11.