Over time we hope to be able to better understand what President Biden meant when he assured Israel that his administration’s commitment to the “defense” of Israel was “ironclad.”

It is already clear that the commitment extended at least to what was just enough to turn back the efforts of those in the act of attacking Israel on Israeli soil. In this he surely stepped up to the plate last weekend.


But the President was also quite emphatic that the U.S. would not support an Israeli retaliation operation against Iran. So, is it also part of the Biden doctrine that the cost to Iran of any replay of its recent attack would be limited to the cost of the munitions expended?

Would Israel get U.S. support if, as part of its defense, it included the usually no-brainer components of trying to bring the fight to the enemy’s home front. Or would that be deemed too close to a frowned upon retaliation?

Pointedly, could Israel get President Biden’s blessing for a preventive incursion into Gaza, Lebanon or Yemen to eliminate the continuing terrorism of Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis? Or will the Biden administration insist that Israel stand down? Certainly, if the Gaza war is any guide, the U.S. will oppose Israel’s exploiting its military dominance to the full.

Relatedly, will the U.S. continue to respond in limited fashion to the provocations of the Iranians and Houthis at sea, or pursue them all the way into Iran and Yemen.

Could Israel count on U.S. support if it targeted for assassination the Iranian military leadership known to have responsibilities for planning and coordinating attacks against Israel? To be sure, in this last go round, Israel eliminated seven senior Iranian officers said to have planned and directed such activities from their Damascus perch but the U.S. still stood with Israel in the face of the Iranian response. But hasn’t the President also strongly suggested that he wasn’t all that happy with Israel over it?

Finally, has President Biden now signaled to the Iranians that they do not have to worry about any U.S. military option to force them to halt their efforts to achieve a nuclear weapons capacity? It wasn’t too long ago that Mr. Biden declared that “everything was on the table” in that connection. Will the U.S. supply Israel with the “bunker busters” needed to get at the Iranian nuclear sites?

Not only our side needs to know the answers. So do the Iranians.


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