Looks like Round 1 is over.
Let’s begin with a small recap of events:
Iran fired a relatively small number of short range missiles at one, possibly two, US bases
The IRGC indicated that if Iran is attacked, then so will Israel
Trump tweeted “so far, so good”
The US reported no casualties
In plain English this means that the strike was intended to be both highly visible AND symbolic (Iran has MANY more missiles, including longer ranged ones, which, if Iran wanted to, could strike every single US base in the Middle-East simultaneously.
So what happened?
I think that Iran wanted to humiliate the US but in a manner which would be under the threshold which would guarantee a US/Israeli counter-strike.
Next, I forced myself to listen to Esper and the Idiot-in-Chief. Here are the salient points:
Esper reiterated that the US does not want war with Iran
The US does not want to leave Iraq because, unlike the Iraq MPs, many/most Iraqis want the US to stay
The US armed forces are THE BEST in the history of the galaxy
Trump will never allow Iran to have nukes
Iran appears to be “standing down”
Europe needs to ditch the JPCOA
NATO needs to get further involved in the Middle-East
Iran bad bad bad, USA good good good
The US armed forces are THE BEST in this history of the galaxy
USA! USA! USA! (etc.)
Okay, to those idiots who apparently think that it is over (or hope it is?)
I can tell you for sure that it ain’t.
The goal of Iran and its allies is to get the USA out of the Middle-East.
Thus these symbolic strikes appear to have given the US/Israeli a sense of relief which might bring them to let their guard down, making it much easier for Iran and its allies to strike again.
It is rather funny to see how the Iranian PR machine “packaged” this one:
if you dare hit us, we will hit you in your most holy and sacred, i.e. Israel.
So far this “we get to shoot at you but you don’t get to shoot back” has worked, but only because the Iranian strike was so symbolic.
this is far, FAR veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrry far from over.
Still, I have to downgrade the likelihood of a massive and imminent war back from 90% to 80%.
* * *
ZH: And given tonight's Iran-backed militia rockets being fired into the Green Zone, it appears The Saker was right. As we noted earlier, contrary to the carefully built narrative that the US and Iran have become nothing short of BBFs, the risk for re-escalation remains huge. As Stratfor noted this morning, Iraq, in particular, could present a theater for action, as Iranian-allied Iraqi militias have also been galvanized by the recent U.S. strikes and likely will be keen to seek retribution.
If an attack by those militias kills a U.S. soldier or contractor in Iraq or Syria, the risks of escalation to a direct military exchange between the United States and Iran would again climb. After all, the United States will hold Iran responsible for the actions of some of its allied militias, especially the mostly Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq.
As such, contrary to the desires of bullish daytraders, the existence of these triggers for potential escalation and the atmosphere of tension that will linger between the two adversaries keeps the long-term risk of a military confrontation alive, even if their current face-off goes no further.