Iran launches missile barrage at US forces. Ayatollah says it’s just the beginning. Is all-out war really coming, or is Tehran all talk?

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Iran-Khamenei

In the early hours of Wednesday morning, the Iranian regime fired 22 missiles at two military bases in Iraq where U.S. forces are stationed.

The attacks were in direct response to the killing of Qassem Soleimani — the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and the most dangerous terrorist in the world — by a U.S. drone strike on January 3.

Fortunately, there were no American casualties in the strikes. But tensions are spiking and big questions remain.

  1. Are the U.S. and Iran heading for all-out war?
  2. Will President Trump order retaliation in response to the missile strikes, or pocket his successful take-down of Iran’s top terrorist leader and de-escalate?
  3. Are Iran’s mounting and furious threats just bluster, or is Tehran serious about unleashing attacks on Americans and Western allies all over the world?

“The fierce revenge by the Revolutionary Guards has begun,” the Iranian military declared, according to a report by the New York Times. 

“Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said his country delivered a ‘slap in the face’ to American forces, but added that the missile attack alone was ‘not enough’ and called for the US to be ‘uprooted’ from the region,” reported the U.K. Daily Mail. 

“This region will not tolerate the U.S. presence — the nations in the region will not accept that and the governments backed by their people will not accept it,” Iran’s Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday, reported the Financial Times.

Such language suggests much more is coming. The leading Democratic presidential candidates — and numerous pundits and commentators in the U.S. and Europe — are warning that President Trump’s decision to take out Soleimani will lead to “anarchy” and that a full-blown war with Iran is now “inevitable.”

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden warned:  “[T]his is a hugely escalatory move in an already dangerous region. The administration’s statement says that its goal is to deter future attacks by Iran, but this action almost certainly will have the opposite effect. President Trump just tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox.”
  • Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders warned: “When you go around assassinating a government official, you unleash international anarchy and all the rules are gone….I get very nervous about it. Not only for the potential loss of life in endless wars, but right now in this country, we have massive, massive domestic needs.”
  • Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said: the job of the president is to keep America safe and yet Mr. Trump has “taken us in exactly the opposite direction.”

U.S., Israeli and Arab forces throughout the Epicenter are on high alert — and the U.S. is flowing in more troops into the region, including 2,800 members of the 82nd Airborne’s Immediate Response Force — in case Iran’s threats to escalate prove legit.

But the President’s action could cause Iran to actually think twice about embarking on a full-scale war. A major conflict is possible, but it’s not inevitable.

Consider the recent Israeli model:

  • In 2019 alone, Israel launched 54 airstrikes against targets in Syria.
  • Many of these strikes were against Iranian forces and sophisticated Iranian weapons bound for Hezbollah, Tehran’s main terrorist proxy in the region.
  • Yet, Israel’s on-going military actions to defend itself from Iranian aggression has not led to a full-scale war between the Jewish State and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
  • Rather, Israel’s willingness to use force, and use it repeatedly, has actually had a deterrent effect on Iran because Iran’s regime is coming to realize that Israel is both willing and able to use force with devastating consequences if necessary.
  • Indeed, the Ayatollah Khamenei knows that Israel has German-built submarines lurking under the murky waters of the Persian Gulf, right off of Iran’s coast.
  • Khamenei knows that each of those subs is equipped with powerful ballistic missiles that could annihilate Iran’s capital and other bases and cities, if need be.
  • That’s why Khamenei is, so far, reluctant to intensify his conflict with Israel — he knows Prime Minister Netanyahu and IDF generals will not hesitate to push the button if they deem there is no other choice.

Right now, Iran’s regime is testing Trump. The mullahs know the U.S. has a massive military arsenal — far larger and far more lethal than Israel’s. What they don’t is whether the American President “all hat and no cattle,” or whether he is truly willing to unleash American force against Iran if he has to. Thus, there is a case that by using firm, decisive force against Iranian aggression in the near-term, the U.S. may actually prevent a larger war in the future.

For now, let us pray for peace, even as we prepare for war.

This article originally appeared on Joel’s blog and reposted with permission.