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Will the US and Iran go to war?

Tensions between the US and Iran have reached historic heights amid the Israel-Hamas war.

Tensions between the US and Iran have reached historic heights amid the Israel-Hamas war.

REUTERS

The White House on Wednesday blamed the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a coalition of militias backed by Iran, for the Sunday drone strike that killed three US service members in Jordan. It's only a matter of time before the US retaliates, and the White House signaled this would occur in stages.


In anticipation of this, Iran on Wednesday warned Washington there would be a “strong response” to “any attack on the country, its interests, and nationals under any pretexts.”

Will Iran make good on its threat? If the US strikes Iranian assets in the coming days, Tehran will likely feel compelled to respond.

But any retaliatory measures that Tehran ultimately takes will probably be calibrated to avoid a full-blown conflict – such as attacks by proxy groups, its preferred method of making problems for its adversaries. Depending on the scale of the US approach, it’s also possible that Iran could target US assets in the region or potentially even US forces – as it did in the wake of a 2020 US drone strike that killed a top Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani.

War, huh, yeah. What is it good for? Neither Washington nor Tehran wants a full-blown war. For one, the war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas already has the region on edge. Iran also can't match up with the US in a conventional war. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden is running for reelection this year and can’t afford to get the US entangled in a war that would undoubtedly drive up oil prices.

Along these lines, there is still hope for de-escalation, but the situation remains tense.

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