War with Iran is averted, but the danger to America goes on

There is every reason to believe that the all-out war just averted will continue to play out in indirect but bloody ways in the months to come.

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President Donald Trump addresses the nation on Wednesday after Iran launched missile attacks on two Iraqi military bases where American troops were housed.

President Donald Trump addresses the nation on Wednesday after Iran launched missile attacks on two Iraqi military bases where American troops were housed.

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No Americans were killed and our nation is not at war with Iran.

For that, we should be grateful.

Yet the United States’ relations with Iran have grown only worse in the three years since Donald Trump became president, and there is every reason to believe the all-out war just averted will continue to play out in indirect but bloody ways in the months to come.

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Iran controls a network of proxy groups throughout the Middle East, from the Houthi rebels in Yemen to Hezbollah in Lebanon, that are sure to step up their threats to potential U.S. targets, such as military bases and embassies, and to American allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia.

The notion that Iran, still enraged by the killing of a top general, now will “embrace peace,” as Trump called for Wednesday, is ludicrous.

Our nation’s overwhelming military superiority may have cowed Iran from directly pushing its luck, as evident in Iran’s largely ineffectual bombing of two military bases in Iraq that house U.S. troops. But nobody should believe this is over. Asymmetrical warfare — the picking off of soft targets — is the preferred strategy of lesser military powers.

The United States’ best hope of containing Iranian aggression was the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and a multinational coalition from which Trump withdrew the U.S. last year. Now Trump has announced he will ramp up economic sanctions against Iran, even as he calls on our nation’s former coalition partners to abandon the “remnants” of the nuclear deal and become more involved in negotiating new security arrangements in the Middle East.

As if China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom or Germany would be eager to throw in again with a U.S. president who trashed the original nuclear deal, belittles the leaders of allied nations, scorns international institutions and can’t be trusted to keep his word.

The world is rid of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and that’s a fine thing. He fomented violence and was responsible for hundreds of American deaths. But the Trump administration has yet to produce evidence that Soleimani posed an immediate threat to the United States and had to be eliminated right away — even at the risk of sparking a regional war.

Trump’s word on this, like on most things, is not enough.

Iran backed down, as Trump gambled it would, and in the short run, he won. Iran’s missile attacks resulted in no American deaths, possibly by design.

But the crisis continues.

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