$SPY: “Likelihood of an all-out direct US-Iran war is low” given strategic nature of the moves made by both sides so far | Jan 2020

1/ Why did Iran militarily escalate in the Gulf lately? Shooting down a US drone, seizing tankers, bombing Saudi oil infrastructure? It wanted to internationalise the conflict. The Strait of Hormuz is where most of the world’s shipping transits. The US chose not to go there. 

2/ US also held its own line: a US person killed meant retaliation. It targeted the militia that did the attack. It was reciprocal, but also punitive to send a message. Iran-backed militia escalated against US embassy. US managed the attack, didn’t blow everything up. #Soleimani 

3/ US responded to embassy attack, and many lower level attacks by Iranian-backed militias in run-up, by killing, in Iraq, the head of all Iranian-backed anything #Soleimani. US may have just restored some escalation dominance. Whether it’s part of cogent strategy is different question.

4/ Real US reckless action or declaration of war wld have been attacking Iranian soil. This admin determined that the cost of tolerating Soleimani alive had now exceeded the benefits of not killing him. We must wait and see whether that was the right call, no one knows today.

 5/ The most important part of Soleimani’s killing, isn’t his killing (as big as that is), it is the deep US intelligence penetration around Iran’s most important military leader that it revealed. Signals and human intel. This is what is going to spook the Iranian camp the longest.

6/ Why did US claim the #Soleimani kill, instead of following the Israeli ambiguity playbook? US and Israel have different roles and capacities. The US is the mightiest military power around, owning attacks cld be part of deterrence, showing force, restoring escalation dominance 

7/ What happens next: let’s be clear, no one knows for sure, even those who will decide some of the next steps. The Iranian regime is not suicidal, it is strategic, calculating (even if it miscalculates sometimes), so likelihood of an all-out direct US-Iran war is low. 

8/ Khamenei promised response, it must be strong enough to save face internally, for a regime already strained + facing popular dissent, and also be calibrated to avoid provoking a US response inside Iran. Iran response will show whether deterrence restored #Soleimani 

9/ The myth of invincibility that Iran built around Soleimani was a huge recruitment tool, it may also now turn out to be a double-edged sword. How does its most valiant warrior, its most effective US challenger, get picked off so precisely by the US? 

10/ Concern for US military, diplo personnel, and citizens, in the region is legit. But allowing it to dictate policy plays into Iran’s hands which weaponises Western sensitivity to human loss, and war weariness, to further destabilise the region unchecked. #Soleimani 

11/ There are many so-called anti-imperialists who always criticise Western intervention but justify Iranian/Russian intervention. Iran is not a legit actor in Iraq/Syria/Leb/Yemen. Its crimes there are no less reprehensible than those by the US or colonialists. #Soleimani

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