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US officials are always talking about “deterring” Iran. What does that really mean?

Posted on AllSides February 16th, 2024
From The Left
Defense and Security, Iran, Deterrance
Omer Al Diri/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Does the US still have the power to deter its adversaries?

When the US launched airstrikes earlier this month against the proxy militias linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in retaliation for the attack that killed three US soldiers at a base in Jordan, President Joe Biden noted that while the US would continue to respond to Iran-linked attacks “at times and places of our choosing,” it “does not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else.” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s statement on the strikes used almost identical language.

Readers of these statements might reasonably...

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