There may be no choice
Iran’s leaders accomplished what they needed to do this week, with a major rocket attack on two areas in Iraq where U.S. troops were housed. They were able to tell their own people they would not allow the “great Satan” — the United States — to push them around.
Scores of U.S. troops died in the rocket assault, Iranian media insisted. In reality, not a single American perished.
Launched in reaction to the U.S. slaying of Iranian terrorist leader Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian barrage amounted to mere saber rattling. It did give President Donald Trump an opportunity to reiterate that the United States does not want war with Iran, however.
On Wednesday, Trump said he would not order a military response to the rocket attack. He added that Iranian forces appeared to be “standing down.”
Clearly, Trump’s diplomacy provided Iranian leaders with an opportunity to avoid escalating conflict with the United States. His offer that the United States is “ready to embrace peace with all who seek it” was a conciliatory gesture.
But will Iranian leaders accept it?
It needs to be remembered that Iranian leaders do not view international relations in the same way as Americans. Revenge is a much, much bigger part of their agenda.
A showy rocket attack may be fine for public relations inside Iran, but that nation’s rulers will not be satisfied until they kill Americans, preferably in large numbers.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made that clear Wednesday. “Last night, they received a slap,” he said of the attack on U.S. military housing in Iraq. But, Khamenei added, “these military actions are not sufficient.”
Let us hope and pray hostilities between the two nations do not escalate. At the same time, we need to be aware the odds are against that. If Iran authorizes the foreign terrorist groups it controls to go on a killing spree against Americans, Trump will have no choice but to respond forcefully.