Not the Real Response

8 January 2020


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Iran Fires Missiles as US Troops in Iraq


Iran delivered its answer to the American assassination of General Qasem Soleimani of the Quds Force. About a dozen ballistic missiles took off from Iran and landed (with minimal damage it appears) at two Iraqi military bases that host US troops. The strike, with much fanfare on Iranian media, is the official response, full of sound and fury signifying nothing. It was a loud demonstration for domestic consumption. The real answer will come through heightened proxy activity to make America more uncomfortable. This is a loss for the Trump administration that it will dress up as a victory, but as time goes on, the truth will come out.

After the US assassinated General Soleimani and did so in such a public fashion, the Iranian government had to respond if only to keep public opinion on its side. The strike was an affront to Iranian nationalism, and the Iranian people were genuinely incensed at the killing of a national hero. That he was a murdering thug was neither here nor there; he was their thug. The hundreds of thousands who turned out for his funeral proved this. If the Supreme Leader and his henchmen did nothing visible to the public, the mob would turn on them.

At the same time, a response that killed Americans and did great damage to military installations would invite further escalation from the US. Had the Iranians wanted to kill large numbers of Americans, launching a dozen ballistic missiles was not the method by which to do it. Pro-Iranian militias in Iraq (which are viewed as cannon fodder by Tehran) could readily have undertaken actions like car bombings and suicide bomber attacks that would have taken dozens of lives. Those moves were not made.

Instead, the Iranians announced almost immediately that about 30 Americans had been killed. Their bomb damage assessment could not possibly have known anything at that stage, but the point was to get the false datum into the public mind that lots of Yankees died. When America announces that no one died, the Iranian in the street won't believe it. Blood lust is now satisfied.

Iran stated after the missiles hit the ground that there would be no further attacks if the US did not retaliate for the attack. That is true insofar as the Iranian military won't be doing anything to US forces and assests. That is not to say there will not be any action at all.

General Soleimani built up several proxies throughout the region from Hezbollah in Lebanon to the Houthi rebels in Yemen. These irregular allies are going to step up their activities. Their moves may not come today or tomorrow or even the day after. Instead, they will strike at times suited to them in ways they choose. The US and its allies cannot remain on full-alert indefinitely.

In the end, the Iranians want the Americans out of the region, starting with Iraq. There is an Islamic civil war between the Shi'ites whom Iran leads and the Sunnis whom Saudi Arabia leads. The US is clearly on the side of the Sunnis, and for that reason, Iran will not rest until the Americans are gone from Sunni lands.

Mr. Trump ran on a platform of bringing the troops home, of ending America's endless wars. He also has a bee in his bonnet about Muslims in general and Iranians in particular. His neo-con advisers have taken advantage of the latter to press their plans for regime change in Iran. How the tension between isolationism and neo-con adventurism gets resolved is going to be complicated -- all the more so when Iran's real response takes hold.

© Copyright 2020 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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