Former NATO commander warns of ‘ladder of escalation’ between US, Iran

Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis warned of a “ladder of escalation” between the U.S. and Iran on Friday.

“I would still assess the chances of an Iran-U.S. direct conflict as quite low,” Stavridis said in an interview on MSNBC. “Neither side wants it. The Iranians have significant internal turmoil in their own country, their economy is in poor shape, they have very little sets of allies and partners, they’re basically locked out of the region in terms of real alliance and friendships.”

“So, Iran really doesn’t want to get in a serious war with the United States,” Stavridis continued.

He also noted that heading into an election year, “the last thing” the Biden administration would want is a “significant conflict.”

“So … let’s call it a 10 percent chance,” Stavridis said.

“That’s still uncomfortably high, and what we need to worry about is that ladder of escalation,” Stavridis said. If Iran were to take military action against the U.S., the U.S. would retaliate, which would then draw Hezbollah into the mix, he predicted.

“Iran hits us, we hit them back, they hit us a little harder. All of a sudden Hezbollah gets into this and starts moving missiles toward Israel.”

U.S. forces based in the Middle East have faced attack at least 13 times in the past week, a Pentagon spokesperson said Tuesday. In an Oct. 18 attack, 20 American service members received “minor injuries” from attack drones at al-Tanf Garrison in Syria, and four other U.S. personnel were injured in two other drone attacks at al-Asad Airbase in Iraq.

The attacks come in the shadow of the Israel-Hamas conflict; fears of the conflict expanding have hovered over how the U.S. is dealing with the fighting between the militant group and Israel. There are fears that Iran could use the conflict to open an additional front or destabilize the region.

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