“He left our troops as sitting ducks, and now three are dead and dozens wounded, sadly as I’ve predicted would happen for months,” said Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas. “The only answer to these attacks must be devastating military retaliation against Iran’s terrorist forces, both in Iran and across the Middle East. Anything less will confirm Joe Biden as a coward unworthy of being commander in chief.”
As for Mr. Trump, now the front-runner for the Republican nomination to challenge Mr. Biden for his old job, he claimed on social media on Sunday that “this attack would NEVER have happened if I was president, not even a chance.” In fact, Iran and its proxies did attack American and allied interests during Mr. Trump’s presidency, and at one point Mr. Trump called off a retaliatory strike that he deemed excessive. He did later order a strike that killed a top Iranian general, but when Iran responded with missile strikes that injured but did not kill American troops, Mr. Trump ordered no further action.
Mr. Biden has ordered military strikes on several occasions in the past few months, including on Christmas Day. Just hours after a drone strike by Iranian-backed militants injured three American service members, one critically, Mr. Biden ordered airstrikes in Iraq in response. He also ordered the U.S. military to target a militia commander blamed for the attack; American forces carried out the order on Jan. 4 with a drone strike in Baghdad that killed the commander, Mushtaq Jawad Kazim al-Jawari.
Until Sunday, the only American military deaths in the region since Oct. 7 came not under fire but during an operation in the Arabian Sea to interdict Iranian weapons to the Houthis. Two Navy SEALs were declared dead last week after one fell overboard and the other dived in to try to save him.
Mr. Biden was informed about the attack in Jordan on Sunday morning in South Carolina, where he was spending the weekend campaigning before its Democratic primary. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III spoke with the president, along with Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, and his deputy, Jon Finer.