Keep Your Powder Dry

Bobby Ghosh expresses skepticism in his piece at Bloomberg that the Iranian regime will be satisfied with their volley of missiles of last night:

More likely, the missiles mark the first salvo of what Khamenei has promised will be “severe retaliation” against the U.S. for taking out his favorite killing machine. Having encouraged millions of Iranians to come out into the streets to mourn Soleimani and demand vengeance, the Supreme Leader has painted himself into a corner. His description of last night’s strikes as “a slap in the face” of the U.S. will not fool his countrymen, and certainly not the families of the 56 killed in the stampede at Soleimani’s funeral.

Nor will it suffice for Iran’s proxy militias in Iraq, which have lost several leaders to American attacks in recent days, including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces.

He predicts additional attacks, both by Iran and its proxies.

If so, that will provide additional evidence about whether Iran is a rational actor or not. Or at least whether their reasons are the same as ours.

7 comments… add one
  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    If Iranian missiles downed the flight from Tehran last night – what an own goal.

  • Does it actually make a difference whether it was or not? There are already rumors out there, further goosed by the retraction by the Ukrainian Embassy in Tehran of its previous statement saying terrorism or rocket attacks had been ruled out as causes of the plane crash in favor of a “we’re investigating it” statement.

  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    A perception of competence is needed to keep Iran’s proxies in line, deter popular unrest.

    Taking down an airplane full of your own nationals is not competence.

  • My point was that the fact of the crash conjoined with the rumor of the aircraft having been shot down inadvertently may do as much to shake that confidence regardless of whether it’s true.

  • TarsTarkas Link

    One wild rumor out there concerning the downed airliner is that the Iranians shot it down under the assumption that they could blame it on Trump’s counterstrike to their missile attack, especially considering the variety of nationalities on board. When that counterstrike didn’t materialize (possibly due to the knowledge of the airliner being downed??), they were stuck with the crash. Refusing to turn over the black boxes is not a good look.

  • TarsTarkas Link

    Curious Onlooker: Not inflicting any fatalities with their missile attack is also not a confidence builder. Which is why they were at least initially stating that up to 80 had been killed, a claim which was parroted by some talking US heads.

    I can understand them not wanting to kill Americans. I read on a different blog that the missiles used were NOT precision weapons. the POTUS has already shown he’s ready to kill when an American is killed. But not killing anyone makes them look weak to their jihadis.

  • Andy Link

    “I read on a different blog that the missiles used were NOT precision weapons. ”

    I thought that too, but that appears to not be the case. Iran does have missiles with accuracies of around 50ft and the evidence suggests those were the ones used. Satellite imagery of al Asad shows several very precise hits on specific structures – an extremely unlikely occurrence with the versions that are only accurate to 1/2 a mile.

    And I think this makes sense if this Iranian attack was primarily about saving face in the near term. If they wanted to avoid war with the US, then using accurate weapons to “miss” the American areas makes a lot more sense than using inaccurate weapons which might hit Americans if they roll snake eyes.

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