The US military and political leadership appeared to be in a deep crisis over the ongoing escalation with Iran.
Early on January 8, Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps conducted a missile strike on the US military bases near the Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Erbil. The strike came in the framework of the Iranian campaign to avenge the US military’s assassination of the Qods Force commander, General Qassem Soleimani, and other prominent Iranian and Iraqi officers.
The Iranian state TV claimed that 80 “American terrorists” (the Iranian Parliament just designated all US military forces as terrorists) were killed in the strikes. The Pentagon denied any casualties in the initial statement on the attack.
Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched.
We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 8, 2020
Since the very moment of the Iranian strike, the US has not really reacted to the development. The US appeared to be unprepared for such a move by the Iranian leadership.
US President Donald Trump limited its comments to the twitter statement and did not deliver the expected adress on the issue.
“All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning,” Trump wrote in Twitter.
According to White House officials, there were preparations for a possible address to the nation after Iran fired missiles at US forces in Iraq, but later they were stopped. The adress is now expected “tomorrow morning”.
— Syrian Girl 🇸🇾🇮🇷 (@Partisangirl) January 8, 2020
This approach is quite different from what the Trump administration and Trump himself claimed before the Iranian strike:
Iran is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets as revenge for our ridding the world of their terrorist leader who had just killed an American, & badly wounded many others, not to mention all of the people he had killed over his lifetime, including recently….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2020
….hundreds of Iranian protesters. He was already attacking our Embassy, and preparing for additional hits in other locations. Iran has been nothing but problems for many years. Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2020
The United States just spent Two Trillion Dollars on Military Equipment. We are the biggest and by far the BEST in the World! If Iran attacks an American Base, or any American, we will be sending some of that brand new beautiful equipment their way…and without hesitation!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2020
Some sources claim that the US did not react because the Iranian missile strike was just a symbolic move: no US troops were allegedly killed and there are indications that US forces may have known in advance of the attack.
However, even if this is true, the entire situation (when some nation delivers missile strike on US forces and there is no response) is unprecedented. This demonstrates both the crisis within the US military political leadership and the weakening US position in the Middle East. Just recently, the Pentagon was forced to denounce the US-led coalition announcement of the troop withdrawal from Iraq.
In any case, Iran publicly slapped the United States in the face.
By approving the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani on January 3, President Trump drove into own trap. Taking into account the importance of the Soleimani personality for the Iranian nation, the respnose was almost inevitable. Now, Trump has 3 main options:
- To conduct a military action (limited or large) against Iran. By taking this step, he will start an open war with Iran that could eventually lead to thousands of US casualties in the conflict;
- To demonstrate ‘restraint’ and limit the response to diplomatic and non-direct military actions. In this case, Trump will loose his face as the strong leader and in fact admit that he fears an Iranian response against US (and Israeli) targets in the Middle East and around the world. In 2020, the US is holding a presidential election. So, this will be a political suicide for Trump;
- To conduct a ‘symbolic’ strike on a desert in some Iranian border area. This also will have serious consequences for Trump’s chances to be re-elected, but will create conditions allowing Iran to conduct a ‘limited response’. An important part of this plan is to deny any US casualties as a result of the US strike. The problem is that in the current state of the US and Iranian societies, such a ‘rigged game’ will have negative political consenquences for both the US and Iranian leadership.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Iran Launches Missiles At US Military Bases In Iraq, Demands Full US Troop Withdrawal (Videos, Photos, Maps)
- Iranian TV Claims ’80 American Terrorists Killed’ As US And Iraq Deny Any Casualties