As tensions escalate between the United States and Iran, Republican lawmakers on Friday criticized President Biden for his response to the death of an American in Syria. They argue that the President’s actions demonstrate weakness and fail to deter America’s adversaries.

Biden Orders Retaliatory Airstrikes

Following the death of a U.S. contractor and the wounding of six other Americans in a drone strike by Iranian forces, President Biden ordered the U.S. military to carry out retaliatory airstrikes in Syria. The launches reportedly killed eight Iranians. However, Iranian-backed proxy forces responded with their own retaliatory strikes on Friday, launching rockets at a U.S. base in northeast Syria. Initial assessments show no U.S. casualties and no damage to the base.

GOP Lawmakers Decry Biden Administration’s Weakness

Republicans in Congress claim the apparent tit-for-tat between the U.S. and Iran is a sign of weakness on the part of the Biden administration. “President Biden and his national security team are letting America down,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. “I fear General Milley and Secretary of Defense Austin are not proving to be up to the task of providing the deterrence America needs to remain safe. However, the ultimate blame for the failing foreign policy and military situation we find ourselves in lies with President Biden.”

Calls for Swift, Vigorous Response

Graham further emphasized that America must respond to attacks with “swift and vigorous” force to deter future incidents. “Being strong is the best deterrence against future attacks,” added the South Carolina Republican.

Other GOP Voices Join the Chorus

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., criticized Biden’s lack of action prior to the loss of American life. “Had he responded in force to dozens of earlier Iranian attacks, this tragedy could have been prevented,” Cotton wrote, urging Defense Secretary Austin to explain his strategy for deterring Iran.

Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla., posted a graph showing that Iran-backed attacks increased after Biden took office, arguing that the President is pursuing a policy of “appeasement” rather than deterrence. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., also suggested that Biden is “coddling” Iran.

Warnings of Iranian Threats

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., emphasized the need to stand strong against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a U.S.-designated terror group. “The Iranian regime is a threat to regional and global peace,” Lankford tweeted.

Pentagon Defends “Proportionate and Deliberate Action”

In response to the criticism, the Pentagon stated that the U.S. had taken “proportionate and deliberate action” with its airstrikes to limit the risk of escalation. Despite this assurance, many observers, including foreign and defense policy analysts, have expressed concern that such an approach will encourage Iran to continue striking American targets.