After days of teetering brinkmanship after Iran’s killing of an American contractor and the U.S. elimination by drone of Iranian terror master Qassem Soleimani, the world breathes easier today. If the relative calm holds, and that’s a sizable if, American interests come out decisively ahead.
Tuesday’s apparently face-saving missile firing by Iran caused no American casualties, seemingly on purpose, with Iran signaling no desire to escalate further, at least through conventional military means. In a late-morning address Wednesday, President Donald Trump generally refrained from more incendiary rhetorical bombast, though he did essentially blame his predecessor, President Barack Obama, for giving the rockets Tehran fired.
The question now becomes whether there will be severe turbulence beneath a superficially calmer surface.
Pressing a perceived advantage, Trump called for new economic sanctions on Iran, in an attempt to push the mullahs into ending their destabilizing behavior. Good luck with that; Tehran has been lashing out to date in large part because of punishing sanctions already on its economy, imposed despite what was documented compliance with the multi-nation nuclear deal.
We didn’t like that deal one bit, but Trump did lasting damage by pulling out, despite that compliance, without a way forward.
It’s a relief that America and Iran avoided a hot war. But historically, Iran’s retaliation has come weeks or even months later in the form of bombs and other mayhem, often executed by proxies.
Hold your breath. Victory over a brutal, terror-sponsoring regime is measured in years, not days.