Editorial: Getting it right in Iran

The Detroit News

President Donald Trump got it right in his response to a flurry of missiles fired by Iran into a American military base in Iraq in retaliation for the assassination of a leading Iranian official/terrorist.

Rather than escalate the tit-for-tat violence by unleashing another round of missiles against Iranian targets, the president announced a tightening of economic sanctions against Iran.

President Donald Trump addresses the nation from the White House on the ballistic missile strike that Iran launched against Iraqi air bases housing U.S. troops, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, in Washington, as Vice President Mike Pence and others looks on.

Trump is reading the signs, hopefully correctly, that Iran doesn't want an all-out war with the United States anymore than the U.S. does. 

Since the Iranian assassination of notorious terrorist Qassem Soleimani, Iran's top general, in a U.S. launched missile strike in Baghdad, Iran has strutted and puffed, threatening to rain fiery vengeance on America.

That sent Trump's critics, particularly those Democrats who are running to replace him, into hysterics, warning that Trump had opened the door to World War III.

But Iran's retaliation Tuesday was relatively tepid. Several rockets were fired into two heavily fortified U.S. military bases in Iraq, causing minimal damage and no reported American casualties.

That seems intentional on Iran's part. It wanted a face-saving gesture, but one that would not further provoke Trump, who had already announced plans to level dozens of Iranian targets should that country's leaders carry out its threats.

Mourners gather to pay their respects to the slain Gen. Qassem Soleimani who was killed in a U.S. airstrike, in Kerman, Iran Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020.

If Iran leaves things as they are, the assassination of Soleimani will be a clear victory for the United States.

The general has tormented the region for decades, forming terrorist militias in Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere, and increasingly targeting U.S. troops and interests. The recent assault on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad was carried out by Iranian-backed Iraqi militants.

The world is better off without Soleimani. His killing, so far at least, is proving worth the risk.

Now, with the heightened economic sanctions, Trump is trying to force Iran back to the table to negotiate a nuclear disarmament deal. He urged the United States' allies to withdraw from the flawed and unenforceable pact forged by former President Barack Obama, and demand Iran accept a new bargain that has real teeth.

Hopefully, Iran now realizes it is dealing with an America that won't try to buy its good behavior with pallets loaded with cash, but rather will use its military might to protect its citizens and interests from Iran-sponsored terror. 

Trump said Wednesday the United States will not tolerate a nuclear armed Iran. The killing of Soleimani should inform the Iranians that he is not bluffing.