Iran, North Korea… why, and to what extent, can these middle powers challenge the United States today?

This Sunday, radical elements, linked to Iran, carried out a massive and coordinated strike, using missiles and attack drones, against an American logistics base in Jordan, resulting in the death of three American soldiers, as well as 34 injured. The attack represents the culmination, for now, of an escalation led by Iran against the United States in the Middle East, as North Korea does the same on the Korean peninsula. Although independent at first glance, these two areas of tension are, in reality, much more linked than it seems.

With each new provocation, whether Iranian or North Korean, the United States seems limited, and very cautious, in its responses. If Washington's measure is obvious, it is above all dictated by a global strategic context, which could quickly be very unfavorable to it, with in the background, the Russian threat against Ukraine and Europe, and that of China against Taiwan, and in the Pacific.

Indeed, if each theater, in isolation, already has a significant potential for escalation in the relatively short term, they appear to be part, taken together, of a larger and otherwise worrying dynamic.

What is the point of origin of the emerging global escalation?

Russia and China have not been afraid of the United States for ten years. This is at least what we can deduce from the radical change in posture of both Moscow and Beijing, which occurred around ten years ago, with the Russian intervention in Crimea then in the Donbass, despite the The commitment made by the United States to guarantee the Ukrainian borders with the Budapest Memorandum, and with the tightening of the nine-line rule in the South China Sea, as with Taiwan, by China.

Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin
The defiant posture of China and Russia vis-à-vis the United States evolved almost simultaneously, between 2012 and 2014, i.e. after the return of Vladimir Putin to the Kremlin, and the arrival of Xi Jinping in power.

If the trajectory followed by these two rapidly evolving powers has worried Western military staffs and chancelleries for several years, Iran, like North Korea, seemed still under control, with the Vienna agreements concerning the Iranian nuclear program. , as well as a certain form of normalization of relations between Washington, Seoul and Pyongyang, on the other.

At the end of the previous decade, however, these two countries evolved towards a much more demanding and bellicose posture towards the United States, it is true partly in connection with the complex positions of the Trump administration on the subject.

But it is undeniably since 2020, and especially from the start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine, that Tehran and Pyongyang have shifted, almost jointly, towards a posture of active defiance against the United States, and the West in general. , going so far as to use offensive military means against American forces or their allies.

3 dead, 34 injured among American soldiers: tensions between Washington and Tehran have reached a new milestone

If the United States almost launched air strikes against Iran in 2019, after the Iranian anti-aircraft defense had shot down an RQ-4A Global Hawk drone, this episode seems, today, almost innocuous in view of Iranian provocations against the American forces in recent weeks.

Iran destroyed RQ-4 Global Hawk in 2019
The destruction of a Global Hawk drone by Iranian anti-aircraft defenses brought the United States within striking distance of massive strikes against Iran. What will happen now that three American soldiers have been killed by strikes carried out by Iranian proxies?

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