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The United States is not at war. But Joe Biden is increasingly a wartime president, with this week's events in the Mideast and Eastern Europe and on Capitol Hill reflecting the possibilities, and limits, of being commander-in-chief.

In the Mideast, Biden is trying to influence both sides of the war between Israel and Hamas. Soon after the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks on southern Israel, the U.S. — which has long provided military assistance to its ally Israel — deployed the USS Gerald R. Ford and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike groups, named after two of Biden's presidential predecessors who knew warfare firsthand. The intent was to signal solidarity with Israel and resolve against its enemies — especially Iran and its Lebanese-based militia, Hezbollah.

What some see as "gunboat diplomacy" — defined by the State Department as "the use or threat of military force to advance foreign policy objectives" — may have had at least a temporary impact on Israel's northern border, which has been hit, but not fully invaded, by Hezbollah, a militia group that Jonathan Schanzer, the Foundation for Defense of Democracy's senior vice president for research, described as "essentially a wholly owned subsidiary of [Iran's] Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps."

Schanzer, whose books include an account of a more limited 2011 war between Israel and Gaza, said that Hezbollah is estimated to have more than 30,000 fighters, with many Russian- and Iranian-trained, and 10 times the rockets as Hamas. There would be a "very real temptation for this group to be brought into this conflict," Schanzer said during a news media briefing on Wednesday, prior to a much-anticipated speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Friday.

That address praised Hamas's attack as "great" and "purely the result of Palestinian planning and implementation" and "proof that Israel is weaker than a spider's web" — while warning that "all options are on the table." But while Nasrallah claimed that U.S. warships "will not scare us," he didn't immediately signal that Hezbollah would wage an all-out war with its full arsenal.

Among the many factors behind the lower-grade conflict — which is still tragically lethal on both sides of the border — is that a broader battle like the one that occurred in 2006 "would be dragging Lebanon into a disaster," Schanzer said, at a time when the country is already in one, with concurring governance and economic crises bringing the nation to the brink. And, Schanzer added, "Biden has sent a clear message through deployment of these assets and through word to both the Islamic Republic [of Iran] and to Hezbollah saying, 'don't even think about it.' "

That's the potential of projecting strength — and stability — through such a deployment, said Jon Olson, a retired U.S. Navy commander currently teaching an International Strategic Negotiation Exercise course at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School.

"When you put a symbol of American power like an aircraft carrier strike group, it communicates a very powerful message to countries in the region — friends and foe alike," Olson said, listing Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis in Yemen as adversaries taking note, while allies like Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, some sectors of Lebanon's complicated polity and of course Israel as those reassured by "the fact that we're willing to put that amount of combat power on call in case needed."

The needs may be martial, of course, but just as importantly can be humanitarian, including a possible noncombatant evacuation operation.

The U.S. wants "to solve this diplomatically — that's obviously the best way to do it," Olson said. "But if push comes to shove there is that military component available that can be called on to use." The show of force "allows us to bargain from a position of strength."

The diplomatic muscle will be flexed more subtly on the Israeli government in a concurrent mission by Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The top envoy's voyage — just the latest round of shuttle diplomacy to the region — is meant to press the president's call for a "humanitarian pause" in order to alleviate the humanitarian catastrophe convulsing Gazans, a plight galvanizing global protests.

"We provided Israel with advice that only the best of friends can offer on how to minimize civilian deaths while still achieving its objectives of finding and finishing Hamas terrorists," Blinken said in Tel Aviv after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"It's clear that the administration would like the Israelis to pause for a short period of time in order to aid the Gazans," Steven A. Cook, senior fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, said in a media briefing on Thursday. But a pause may not be plausible for the Israelis, said Cook, who explained that they apparently "want to press whatever military advantages that they see they have at the moment."

And, in fact, on Friday Netanyahu refused Blinken's push for a pause, saying, "I have made clear that we are continuing forcefully, and that Israel refuses a temporary cease-fire that does not include the release of our hostages" held by Hamas.

Blinken will also likely closely focus on what comes after Israel's unceasing military campaign. "The longer-term issue is how to shape 'the day after,' which no one has a very good answer to," Cook said, later adding: "There's no appetite within the Arab world or Europe to take responsibility for the Gaza Strip."

Short-term thinking isn't limited to allied capitals. It's apparent in Washington, too, as evidence by a House vote on a bill that was originally intended as Biden's bid to address aid to Israel, Gaza, Ukraine, Taiwan and the southern U.S. border in one omnibus bill. But Republican representatives, led by new House Speaker Mike Johnson, passed an Israel-aid-only bill that was coupled with defunding a budget boost to the IRS intended to address tax evasion. No humanitarian aid to Gazans nor military aid to Ukraine — which is locked in a "stalemate," its top commander conceded this week — was included in a bill the White House warned "fails to meet the moment." On a mostly party-line vote, the measure passed, with all four of Minnesota's Republican representatives voting for it and all four of the state's Democrats against.

The Democrat-led Senate, said Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, will reject the "stunningly unserious" bill.

History — and next November, voters — will determine if Biden himself is meeting the moment, a stunningly serious time that's unexpectedly cast him as a wartime president.