In my previous article, I outlined what I thought might be President Trump’s strategy regarding Iran. In essence, the President is applying a “peace through strength” foreign policy. His goal is to negotiate a peace agreement. The means of achieving peace is, paradoxically, a show of superior military strength and a willingness to use the military if it becomes necessary.
Last night, Iran launched a missile attack against Iraqi/U.S. bases. A total of 15 missiles were launched. 11 missiles hit targets in Iraq, and 4 missiles failed to hit a target. Although they have the capability of causing severe damage to U.S/Iraqi forces, the attack caused no U.S. casualties. (Sky News Arabia reported 5 Iraqi injuries.)
Immediately after the attack, Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, sent out a tweet saying Iran chose to retaliate for the death of Qasem Soleimani. Still, they do not want to escalate the situation.
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
President Trump also sent out a tweet, noting that there were no U.S. casualties and that he would make a statement in the morning.
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.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 8, 2020
In today’s statement, the President stressed that Iran will not be allowed to continue funding terrorism and will not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. He announced new economic sanctions against Iran and called for European nations to follow suit and abandon their attempts to hold onto the JCPOA (Iran deal). President Trump wants to negotiate a new agreement with Iran that will lead to prosperity and peace in the region.
If the President is trying to start a war with Iran, he’s missed multiple opportunities to do so. Iran seems to have passed on the opportunity as well. Although some view last night’s attack as a sign of increasing hostility, I see it as an overture toward peace. If two nations are engaged in military conflict and they aren’t being driven toward war, they’re being driven toward peace, despite appearances to the contrary.
Some military experts believe Iran intentionally fired the missiles in such a way as to avoid causing U.S. casualties. In a culture where honor is gauged by one’s willingness to retaliate, Iran may have felt the missile launch would show strength to Iranian citizens. And since the regime controls the media, their false claim of inflicting dozens of U.S. casualties would make them appear valiant.
The way the event played out suggests that the President is engaged in backchannel communications with Iran. I would assume they’re discussing a strategy for de-escalation with a long term goal of moving both nations closer to peace talks. Last night’s events seem to be a demonstration of that strategy.
If Iran’s leaders can be persuaded to negotiate peace, they have a willing partner in President Trump. If they’re unwilling to negotiate peace, perhaps the Iranian people will replace them with leaders who are.
Please keep the President, Iran’s leaders, and the Iranian people in your prayers.