Ben Shapiro: Joe Biden Is Scared of His Own Shadow

The perspectives and thoughts expressed in this op-ed are the exclusive purview of the author.

This week, the Islamic Republic of Iran — a radical Shariah theocracy hell-bent on the destruction of Israel and Saudi Arabia, among others — fired some 300 drones and missiles at the State of Israel. This is, definitionally, an act of war. Iran claimed that it had attacked Israel in response to Israel’s killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps terror master Gen. Mohammad Reza Zahedi in Syria. In reality, this was merely the latest escalation by Iran, after decades of using its proxies in the Middle East to attack Americans, Israelis and Western allies.

Why, though, did Iran think it could get away with such a launch without serious repercussions — particularly since America directly intervened, along with the U.K., France, Jordan and Saudi Arabia in taking down Iranian ordnance?

The answer is simple: Iran has successfully deterred the United States.

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Deterrence, according to the Defense Department, is “the prevention of action by the existence of a credible threat of unacceptable counteraction and/or belief that the cost of action outweighs the perceived benefits.” Clearly, the United States has not deterred Iran. Far from it: according to a report from the Jerusalem Post, Iran notified the United States in advance of its barrage against Israel, hoping to attain some sort of assurance that the United States would not retaliate and would pressure Israel to not retaliate, either. According to a Turkish go-between, “Iran informed us in advance of what would happen. Possible developments also came up during the meeting with (Secretary of State Antony) Blinken, and they (the U.S.) conveyed to Iran through us that this reaction must be within certain limits.”

This is perfectly repulsive. In short, Iran wanted to engage in a show of strength; they then notified America that they would be attacking an American ally directly in the largest Middle Eastern cross-border attack by a sovereign country on another sovereign country since the Gulf War. And Biden said, “Sure, OK, so long as you don’t go too far.”

Biden then performed his part: he pressured Israel to “take the win” and not retaliate. After all, Biden said, it wouldn’t look good to “escalate” in the region.

Now, the reality is that the best way to deescalate in foreign policy is often to engage in actual deterrence. That’s why President Donald Trump’s approach, mocked by the pseudo-intellectual class, was effective: yes, it was bizarre to watch the sitting president of the United States threaten other world leaders with his “nuclear button,” which Trump assured those leaders was “much bigger and more powerful.” Also, would you want to provoke a man who tweeted such things if you were Kim Jong Un or the ayatollahs?

But Joe Biden doesn’t understand deterrence. In fact, he is deterred: Iran has successfully launched a war against Israel, and the United States is not only backing down but also pushing Israel to do the same.

So, why is Biden backing down?

Two reasons. First, Biden believes that his reelection effort requires the Middle East to calm. Second, Biden believes that his reelection effort requires the support for pro-Hamas radicals in Michigan. Biden is wrong on both counts, of course: It turns out that appeasement heightens the possibility of conflict in the Middle East, and Biden’s attempts to feed the pro-Hamas alligator one bite at a time will eventually end with his candidacy on the plate.

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Whatever the rationale, however, the image of the United States under Joe Biden is one of unending cowardice. The Taliban called Biden’s bluff; Russia has called Biden’s bluff; Iran has called Biden’s bluff; how long will it be until China does? Deterrence requires, above all else, willpower. And that is in short supply from a White House that sees strength as a weakness.

Ben Shapiro, 39, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, host of “The Ben Shapiro Show,” and co-founder of Daily Wire+. He is a three-time New York Times bestselling author; his latest book is “The Authoritarian Moment: How The Left Weaponized America’s Institutions Against Dissent.” To find out more about Ben Shapiro and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at


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