Joe Biden has promised the US will “respond” to the assault on Tower 22, which left three US army personnel lifeless and dozens wounded.
The downside is that the US has already been responding to assault after assault on its bases within the Middle East – and has however failed to discourage them.
There have been greater than 160 up to now.
And the US has retaliated to these – the graphic beneath exhibits their assaults since 27 October.
They already embody strikes towards bases operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – the regime’s strongest army pressure – somewhat than proxy militias.
Defence and safety analyst Professor Michael Clarke stated: “What the Americans were trying to do was be very graduated in their response – always to respond to individual attacks with another retaliation on the place where the attack came from.
“It clearly has led the Iranians to really feel that they’ll carry on pushing America. So, I believe the actual fact American service personnel have been killed has crossed a line.
“The Americans now have got to decide if they need to take a step up in terms of their response.”
Would a response that included sanctions or maybe a cyberattack actually be a step up?
Many Iranian officers are already underneath sanctions and there may be home stress on Mr Biden to go additional.
Professor Clarke means that another choice could be to focus on Iranian ships within the Red Sea and connecting waters: “The Americans might regard that as a sensible target since they’re all part of the Iran’s attempts to create a crisis for America.”
IRGC quick boats function repeatedly within the Strait of Hormuz and have seized oil tankers prior to now.
Earlier this month, Iran additionally introduced that its warship Alborz, a frigate, had entered the Red Sea.
There’s additionally the Behshad.
The ship formally carries cargo however army analysts say it carries out surveillance that has been very important for all of the Houthi assaults – one other Iranian-backed militia that types a part of the identical so-called “axis of resistance”.
Those could be Iranian belongings, however nonetheless exterior Iran. Further up the escalation ladder could be an assault on Iranian territory itself.
That might be restricted to the coast, maybe. Or they may strike the inside – maybe even on nuclear services.
That is the very prime of the ladder – and the US wouldn’t begin there, if solely to provide itself room to climb sooner or later.
On Monday, Iran’s overseas ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani stated that his nation “does not welcome the expansion of conflicts in the region”.
And Mr Biden stated on Tuesday that “we don’t need a wider war in the Middle East” however he had selected an unspecified response.
Others would argue that, with the loss of life of US army personnel, the broader battle is already right here.