The assassination of Iran’s top-ranking general is almost certain to draw a response. The action taken by the United States violated Iran’s sovereignty to the utmost degree, threatening the very survival of its leaders. However, whether or not Iran’s response will lead to a wide conflict involving the United States and our allies is up to them, and history tells us that Iran’s leadership tends to back down rather than rise in opposition against an American Threat.
Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has pounced on the event in an attempt to portray President Trump as a Bush-brand War Hawk, and has made baseless comparisons to the current crisis and the invasion of Iraq. We are not dealing with a rogue military junta, such as Iraq in 2003. Iran has valuable defense and trade alliances with Russia, China, in addition with interest in maintaining its current deal with the EU regarding the Nuclear Agreement, especially regarding halted sanctions that, if resumed, could decimate Iran’s already struggling economy. In addition, the President has made it clear that an invasion of Iran is not his goal, and has already taken steps during his term to limit rather than increase American Involvement in the Middle East, such as fully pulling troops out of Syria and threading unsteady negotiations with Taliban Leaders.
Historically, Iran has only challenged the United States when we stray from strong, assertive leadership. For example, as Ronald Reagan took power in 1981, his bellicose approach to foreign affairs contrasted from former executive Jimmy Carter. The ongoing Iranian Hostage crisis would end the day of Reagan’s inauguration. In addition, as US-lead forces tore through crumbling Iraq, Iran quickly suspended its research into developing a nuclear weapon.
Iran’s response is more likely to be calibrated in the interest of protecting their country from a destructive war. For the moment, we can appreciate that the violence has only found a general rather than his soldiers, or the people of Iran themselves.