Iran's Measured Response Puts Trump in No-Win Scenario

Mish

Both Iran and Trump backed down from what could have led to a disastrous war. But Trump lost the exchange,

On January 3, Trump Tired Missiles at Iraq assassinating Qassem Soleimani, leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

On January 7, Iran Struck Back with over a dozen missiles at US forces in Iraq.

Upping the Ante Iranian Style

Trump Backing Down

Iran Backs Off as Well

Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, justifies the attack under UN charter 51, then tries to defuse the situation.

Crimes Against Humanity

Ten Things We Know

  1. Trump assassinated Qassem Soleimani on foreign soil, in Iraq.
  2. Trump made a martyr out of Soleimani.
  3. Soleimani was a fierce ISIS fighter but we took him out anyway.
  4. Trump twice threatened to attack Iranian cultural sites if Iran responded. Attacking cultural sites is a war crime.
  5. Iraq threatened to boot out the US out of the country in response to the strike.
  6. Iran is capable of of a precision hit with dozens of missiles. There were no casualties as Iran clearly intended.
  7. Trump managed to rally Iranians in support of their current leadership.
  8. US allies backed away from supporting Trump and instead called for de-escalation.
  9. Trump backed down from his threat to hit Iran hard if they counterattacked.
  10. Iran backed down stating it did not seek escalation or war.

That's what we know.

This is an opinion: Collectively, Trump lost the exchange. Iran came out stronger, and Trump weaker, albeit at the cost of their military leader.

Rational Thinking

Reflection on the Polls

Just a Reminder

Ending the Confusion

Senator Lindesy Graham Brags About Preemptive Strike

Is there any reason Iran should not have the same preemptive right?

State-Sponsored Terrorism

History Lesson Part One

History Lesson Part Two

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (103)
No. 1-43
BaronAsh
BaronAsh

War with Iran is a 'no-win scenario.'

But there is no indication that war is in the cards any more than it was at any time past few years.

This is mainly posturing and froth. Both sides are thumping chests demonstrating military resolve to their respective populations, allies and adversaries.

Either the stage is being set for WW III, which is unlikely. Or it is being set for substantive negotiations.

Quite likely Soleimani was considered an obstacle to wherever the talks will be headed so he had to be taken out before proceeding further. His - and a few others in his network's - death was worth the blowback thus far. Iran has said that having sent off its missiles, it wants no more. Honor is satisfied for now so Iran will do no more for now (seemingly). Remains to be seen if talks are in the offing.

You say Trump is in no-win. Others might point out that a night or two of minor blowback - with no US casualties - is a small price to pay to take out the key commander of yr enemy.

But what do I know?

BaronAsh
BaronAsh

On the other hand, it might be more about upcoming Iraqi elections than going to war with Iran: https://www.theepochtimes.com/soleimanis-assassination-could-be-a-political-game-changer-inside-iraq-say-experts_3193681.html

"“On the tactical level, the U.S. move might seem to be problematic with regards to relations with Iraq, however, it could offer Iraq a window to act against the Iranian influence at the right time due to the absence of Soleimani. It will be hard to predict how things will evolve in such an environment, but there is no doubt that Iraq still needs the U.S. right now,” he said.

Bazzi said Trump has opportunities to explore inside Iraq. “Now that he’s out of the picture, the Trump administration can push for its preferred candidate(s) and encourage a shift in the country towards Washington and away from Tehran,” said Bazzi."

I guess the US isn't the only country in the world in an election year, eh?

crazyworld
crazyworld

Mish is fully right. Welcome to the neocons international way of making politic and wars; and last but not least MONEY. US is the champion in this matter of head of state manipulation but other powerful countries are not innocents either.

The US wanted 50 per cent of Irak oil revenues in exchange for repairing the country.(deeply damaged by the so called IRAKI WMD destruction process against Saddam). The problem happened to be that the Chinese proposed to make the same repairs for far less (as they are far cheaper as everybody know). Iran was lobbying for that Chinese deal with the Irak Chias. The previous Irak prime minister wanted to deal with the Chinese but Trump warned him that he would face civil unrests directed against Iran and him, pushing for his dismissal. That is exactly what happened. He dismissed to avoid being killed by US proxies and a more cooperative prime minister took over. Of course the last US bombings destroyed all these "political" efforts especially when the previous prime minister made a public revelation of all that at the Iraki parlement. Now Irak want the US to leave and the Chinese are waiting behind the door.

Sechel
Sechel

at first look iran's military is out of date and in a sad state with no nation willing to sell them weaponry and no match for the u.s. but that's a very naive look. iran has invested heavily in an asymmetric capability using antiballistic missiles, drones speedboats and proxy allies that could inflict a great deal of damage on the u.s. and would be very expensive to neutralize. really wondering how much visceral trump took this into account. he's never been known to play 3-d chess.

I agree Iran made Trump look weak yesterday. Trump drew a line and they crossed it. Very similar , actually worse than Obama's red line

djhowls
djhowls

Not really Trump has backed off before - he is erratic and it never hurts his base support

JimmyScot
JimmyScot

I have a different take. If there are US casualties, then I revise my opinion.

This is a win-win for Trump and Iran. Trump has given Iran a bloody nose, and Iran will think twice about its constant agitation in the region. Is Khomeini next - that's what he's thinking.

As has been pointed out, while the media is obsessing about American intervention, nobody seems to comment on Iran's meddling in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Palestine.

Quite remarkable with all the defence systems in place that all those ballistic missiles got through. Not one of them shot down, only a couple of duds that didn't explode.

Quite remarkable that not a single serviceman was killed or injured.

Recall the comments made earlier in the week by Trump (paraphrasing): any non proportional response will be met with hellfire.

So my guess is there is a backchannel. Pull the GIs back into shelters or off base, go ahead Iran, take your free shot.

Iran gets to go back to screaming "death to America", Trump claims to have cut off the snake's head and says that since no servicemen were injured, he's going to ignore the provocation.

No escalation.

I think too many people are orienting themselves using the "unintelligent orange man child" caricature and forgetting the strategists who sit around him.

Scooot
Scooot

Would USA have assassinated General Soleimani in that way if Iran were a Nuclear Power? So Iran will become more determined to become one as soon as possible & the USA will become more determined to stop them, how will they do that? A very unstable situation in my view.

michiganmoon
michiganmoon

Although I do generally agree with Mish's post above and I do think that Trump has mismanaged this, let me question one point that he made.

"9. Trump backed down from his threat to hit Iran hard if they counterattacked."

Did Iran truly counterattack if the reports are that no US serviceman were hurt? Literally at one of the bases "under attack" a reporter initially denied that there was an attack underway, claiming that there was just a drill with sirens and all was calm around the base.....

I sincerely don't know what happened and I am guessing more news will come out today, but it sounds like Iran lobbed some missiles at empty sand near our bases. Then Iran can have the propaganda for their people of "striking back at America" without actually striking back at America, which could provoke Trump to escalate this thing more so.

Bottom line: Is it truly an attack if Iran intended to only hurt sand?

Although I don't like Trump's job performance, it would be wise of him to realize that attacking sand is not a true attack against the US (if that is all that happened) and to not respond in a way to escalate this thing further.

Sechel
Sechel

Trump gave our European allies the big middle finger when he torpedoed the Iran deal. Europe will be very happy to let Trump deal with this mess all by himself. I imagine Putin will watch and offer to bail Trump out by working out some deal with Iran in exchange for the U.S. pulling out of the region.

Just to repeat. I don't have an issue with the ethics of taking out Soleimani. He was a thug. The question is whether Trump exercised prudence and whether the risk reward of the action made any sense here.

Blurtman
Blurtman

Mish, You are pissing in the wind. Most Mericans enjoy watching a real war criminal's daughter host a morning talk show. Judith Miller became a political show guest darling after her false stories about Iraqi WMD's. War criminal and incompetent national security advisor, clueless on the lead up to 9/11, Condi Rice, is continually feted by the USTA and other organizations.

-4. Trump twice threatened to attack Iranian cultural sites if Iran responded. Attacking cultural sites is a war crime.

  • George W. Bush is the real war criminal. Invading a country under false pretenses, and destabilizing Iraq and bringing it closer to the Iranian sphere of influence - nice job!

-5. Iraq threatened to boot out the US out of the country in response to the strike.

  • The minority Sunni's and Kurd's did not participate in this motion which is non-binding.

You broke it, you keep it. True words from another disappointing liar.

JonSellers
JonSellers

The military is currently saying that no servicemen were killed. They may well by lying. That would absolutely be the smart thing to do.

And if Iran can drop a dozen missiles on an American air field in Iraq, they can certainly dump a bunch on Saudi oil storage facilities. Trump had better back down.

Casual_Observer
Casual_Observer

The trade to kill Sulemani was worth it imo. The IRGC may have a new leader but he wont be travelling to Iraq or anywhere else anytime soon. The US cut off the head of the snake. Firing missiles into an empty US base is not proportional but Iran wants their people to believe it is. Trump will be emboldened to assassinate military leaders of other state sponsors of terrorism. By the way anyone who thinks the US is a state sponsor of terrorism doesnt understand the difference between normal war and asymmetric warfare on civilians by terrorists.

billybobjr
billybobjr

A lot of smoke and mirrors going on here . I don't think anyone really knows the dynamics in play completely . General Soleimani was over the secret police and may have been the most powerful and feared man in Iran . He reportedly had ordered killed many Iranians in the latest uprisings . The Iranians even the ayatollahs may have felt they could not change direction for the fear of him taking them out . We will see in time . The reality is we can strike Iran when and where we want and we can take out their nuclear capability in short order and there is nothing they can do to stop us,if we really decide we want to . Mish has one big problem Muslims do destroy cultural sites when they take over and they do kill and persecute those who don't convert to their beliefs . Anyone who doesn't know the long history of Islam and their attempts to dominate and force their culture on others is naive. So in that since it has been a long running war for centuries and war is ugly .

lol
lol

Iran buying time,to build a coalition for a ground offensive,they saw how US cut and run the minute they take even a single casuality,why?US has no real stomach for a fight,they love war,as long as it's dropping bombs,fighting on the ground,and it's cut n run for the exits.

Sechel
Sechel

Trump has no backed down on his threat to go after Iranian cultural sights

mkestrel
mkestrel

All the war fear mongering here is ridiculous. You may not like the elimination of a terrorist but it looks like Trump won based upon the news this morning. The Iranian "attack" was a just a face saving act.

Purvis Lebone
Purvis Lebone

Mish, your antipathy for Trump is revealed every time you analyze one of his actions. As others in the comments have stated, I think Trump may come out will on this.

Sechel
Sechel

Apparently Pompeo drove this

WASHINGTON — Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was the loudest voice in the administration pushing President Trump to kill Iran’s most important general. This week, he is back in his role as the nation’s top diplomat, trying to contain the international crisis the general’s death created.

CautiousObserver
CautiousObserver

@mkestrel: "All the war fear mongering here is ridiculous..."

I would not say it is ridiculous. It is a bit premature, maybe, but not ridiculous.

The US and Iran are lobbing live rockets and missiles at each other, purposely "limiting" the effect. That is a very dangerous game. All it would take for the whole thing to blow up in everyone's faces is for one exchange to accidentally kill a few more people than intended.

Meanwhile, what about the fact Iran has publicly announced its intent to enrich its nuclear material to weapons grade? Israel and the US have issued strong ultimatums tied to that decision. Does everyone believe now after all of Israel's brinkmanship that they will be okay with Iran being a nuclear power? Really? Israel is going to back down and say they did not really mean what they have said for the last dozen years and everything is okay now?

wootendw
wootendw

"Ten Things We Know"

1). "Trump assassinated Qassem Soleimani on foreign soil, in Iraq."

We still do not really know that Trump ordered this attack despite his claim to have ordered it. A good boss takes responsibility for the actions of those who report to him, even when the actions were against policy. Trump fired NSC anti-Iran war hawk, Richard Goldberg, shortly after the Soleimani strike. It's possible that Trump did order the strike after false information from hawks and Bibi (who no longer wants war).

4). "Trump twice threatened to attack Iranian cultural sites if Iran responded. Attacking cultural sites is a war crime."

It is not uncommon for leaders to talk in a bellicose manner while negotiating behind the scenes.

5). "Iraq threatened to boot out the US out of the country in response to the strike."

I predict that Trump will be removing US troops from Iraq (& Syria) in the near future.

6). "Iran is capable of of a precision hit with dozens of missiles. There were no casualties as Iran clearly intended."

From the looks of it, Iran's strike was agreed to by all sides including US & Iraq. It allowed them to save face (once we leave Iraq) without going to a wider war.

8). "US allies backed away from supporting Trump and instead called for de-escalation."

That will help cover Trump if 'responds' no further and gets US out of Iraq.

  1. & 10). "Trump backed down from his threat to hit Iran hard if they counterattacked. Iran backed down stating it did not seek escalation or war."

And Bibi changed his 'mind' (or had it changed for him) about wanting US to go to war with Iran. As I said, this was pre-arranged and agreed to.

I didn't vote for Trump but, if he did not order Soleimani's killing or it he ordered it on bad advice, then what has transpired represents a good job on Trump's fault.

Trump is surrounded by warmongers in the NSC and also has to contend with the blood-lusting US Senate. He can hire as well as fire NSC personnel but cannot appoint Cabinet secretaries, such as Pompeo and Esper, without the advise & consent of the Senate. He may have an easier time doing so now, as no one in his right mind wants war with Iran, including we the people.

So far, the results of the Trump presidency, whether he intended them or not, have been better than that of his four predecessors.

baconbacon
baconbacon

Strongly disagree here. As it stands Iran's counter attack was toothless and either intentionally didn't hit US troops or incompetently didn't hit US troops. If it stands here Trump publicly took out a high ranking Iranian, as well as multiple other targets and the response cost zero US lives, and Iranian rhetoric won't cover what is supposedly a major leadership loss for how they conduct their operations while providing a large disincentive to his successor.

Latkes
Latkes

This seems more like a win for Trump to me. Iranian attack helped their leaders save face and diffuse situation. Trump showed restraint and I can't see not going to war and not suffering any casualties as a loss for Trump.

Sechel
Sechel

11:30 We're asking NATO to step up in the middle east and announcing new sanctions. Is Trump serious?

Sechel
Sechel

Did Trump just praise the great American bunkers for protecting our soldiers?

truthseeker
truthseeker

Ok trying to be as objective as I possibly can, I pretty much agree with bacon bacon here and others that if that’s the end of it, Trump comes out on top. Still I think we need to know all the reasons that were talked about last night that precipitated our attack on this Iranian terrorist to start with, is most important if they are all true. Iran’s response was very weak it seems like to me they had absolutely no desire to kill anyone, but they had to do something, so hopefully that’s the end of it.

Tengen
Tengen

Fortunately cooler heads prevailed here. On the surface Trump can claim an easy win, assassinating the most popular figure in Iran with basically zero retaliation.

However, some interesting info emerged afterward. Pompeo went around to rally another coalition of the willing, only to find that nobody was on board. The strongest endorsement was from Salvini in Italy, but he's not in power now. Even Israel distanced themselves from the whole affair, which is kind of hilarious.

It looks like Russia and China pushed for deescalation behind the scenes, which means they're playing a long game. They're probably right to do so, since our MIC is bloated and corrupt and the Fed is printing to the moon.

Sleemo
Sleemo

The goat entrails before me reveal nothing.

I think I will retire to my cave and try to make sense of the shadows on the wall.

bradw2k
bradw2k

Both sides got very lucky, especially Iran, that there were no casualties from the missiles. Both sides got their message across. The US message is: we see your proxy war BS and we have the means and intent to hold you accountable. Iran message is: we aren't completely impotent, but we don't want to actually fight the US.

The notion that Trump must have decided on killing Solemeini without considered analysis is silly (I won't say TDS). He would have received options and intel from Pentagon et al that we have not heard. And before Mish's #1 fact "assassination" there is a lot of history and context, such as the Dec 27th attacks.

FromBrussels
FromBrussels

FUCK ! ain t gonna be no fckn WW then ?! Bought gold this morning at 1600$ ....f f f f f f ! .......ps: just kiddin'...

stillCJ
stillCJ

Editor

Seems like Mish should have waited to hear Trump's response. Mr. Market certainly thinks it's a winner.

Sechel
Sechel

There was a lot of sniffing , mispronouncing , threats, me me me going on in Trump's speech today but it appears he's standing down. No new actions, talk of restarting Nuclear talks with Iran and turning to NATO. Not easy to parse a speech like that but I got that out of it. Now why is #adderall trending on twitter?

Casual_Observer
Casual_Observer

A lot of people are assuming this "assassination" of Solemani came from the US. Few have discussed the possibility that the whole thing was a backchannel negotiation between secular forces in the Iranian government, the mullahs and the CIA/State Dept to have Solemani killed. The mullahs are using his death to curry favor with terrorist groups. The secular forces don't mind seeing the head of the snake (IRGC) cut off as they killed Iranian civilians for decades. The huge miss and "early warning" system of missiles at the bases in Iraq fired away from people is a dead giveaway IMO that this whole thing was a win-win for Trump (gets people to look away from impeachment and focus on national security), Mullahs (can recruit more terrorists) and Iranian citizens (most hate the IRGC).

LB412
LB412

Not so much Mish. I wouldn't doubt if this scenario was coordinated. Let the Iranian's save face in return for de-escalation. USA kicked them in the balls and the Iranians "slapped us in the face." I'll take that trade any day.

JMOD46
JMOD46

"This is an opinion: Collectively, Trump lost the exchange. Iran came out stronger, and Trump weaker, albeit at the cost of their military leader."

Just one question, Mish. What is the color of the sky on your world?

plzensky
plzensky

Let's get this out of the way: The Middle East isn't worth American blood or money, so in my opinion, we shouldn't be involved there.

As for the Trump-Iran pissing match, though, it's too early to definitively say who "won." However, the current tally is:

Trump: assassinates Soleimani and al-Muhandis

Iran: fires retaliatory missiles into the sand and probably shoots down a Ukrainian airliner in the process

Supposedly, both Bush Jr and Obama considered targeting Soleimani, but decided that it was too risky to go after such a big fish.

Notwithstanding the blather of the Twitterati and the pop-media, it looks like the Bad Orange Man is coming out ahead so far.

Oh yeah, the stock market is setting new record highs, so there's no question what lesson Trump has learned from this exercise.

Irondoor
Irondoor

I wonder why the Iranian missiles were so off-target compared to the precision attack that hit the Saudi oil installations? Those were very accurate and demonstrated Iran's missile capability.

It will likely come out in the future that the missiles Iran fired yesterday were low-yielding and came nowhere near bunkers or other places that American soldiers would have been.

There were many other US installations that could have been targeted, such as the American Embassy, which is the logical target if Iran wanted to make a major statement. But that would have been a bridge too far for Trump. He would have hit Iranian oil targets very hard. It also may come out that there was back-channel communication between us and the Iranians that worked this out to avoid escalation but give the Supreme Leader the cover he needs to demonstrate revenge to his people.

crazyworld
crazyworld

Iranian missiles did not miss. Have a look at satellites picture showing the Ain Assad airbase where 6 storage structures have been severely damaged . Could they have been chosen because they are not housing military personnel.? The Iranian strike success show that this important airbase so far (like the Saudi oïl installations) has no effective aerial defense.at all. Next strike could kill all military personnel if Iran so wished. That could be their message.

On top of that 2 rockets landed again near the US embassy in Bagdad.

Nevertheless it would be

footwedge
footwedge

Boy, it's seems true that men really are bigger gossips that women. So much speculation, so little information. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? I don't think so!

Knight
Knight

99.9% likely that Iran inadvertently shot down that Ukrainian airliner. They are looking inept. I don’t see where Trump hurt himself in this exchange at this point.

Sechel
Sechel

Listened to Mike Lee's Rant about the pathetic security briefing given on the Iran to justify the taking out of iran's leading general. I was initially supportive but skeptical. Now after seeing events unfold and processing the facts as known it seems a great deal of the emergency and pressing need to take out Soleimani was contrived and basically amounted to some hawks on the Trump team just doing what they've long since wanted to do. To those who who never believed in the George W justification for the 2nd Iraq war this must feel similar. My feeling is that Trump no longer has a deep bench to advise and many of the character's like Esper are new on the job. If Mattis and McMaster were still around calmer heads would have prevailed.

Ebowalker
Ebowalker

I think this is the wrong take. Iran "hit" back to look strong. The US can diffuse this now with no casualties and some property damage. The general remains dead.

Im of the opinion this was state sponsored murder and clearly illegal bit what does it matter? No matter who is president they all end up being john mccain on foreign policy.

awc13
awc13

"Trump made a martyr out of Soleimani."

i think way to much value is assigned to the "made a martyr" idea. he is gone. difficult to influence people when you are dead.