Opinion: Iran's missile strike on US troops is just the beginning

Qasem Soleimani was killed on Friday

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Former Defence Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind thinks Iran could be planning more attacks on the US after the death of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. These are his views and not talkRADIO's.

Iran's missile strike on US troops in Iraq is almost the lowest possible level of retaliation and I'm cautious about assuming that this is the end of it.

The Iranians will look very weak indeed if this is all they are able to do, given the seriousness of what happened.

They are claiming they killed 80 Americans - that is absolute rubbish obviously, the evidence appears to be they didn't kill anyone at all - but it was still a missile attack.

In order to carry out something more dramatic, such as an attempt to assassinate a senior American perhaps, that takes planning. You can't just do it in 24 hours.

I would be very cautious in assuming the missile strike isn't anything other than a first instalment.

Unusually, Donald Trump tweeted in a very mild way his response to the attack. I'm not surprised.

He wants to be able to claim that he took a risk and the risk has come off. He has managed to remove one of the most senior figures in the Iranian regime and very little has happened in response. 

There is no self-interest in him seeking to escalate things further, but that will depend on whether the Iranians have in fact drawn a line. 

They are much weaker than they like to present themselves as being, and they know at the end of the day they cannot win a military confrontation with the United States.

My problem with president Trump – not just my problem, the problem most people have – is the incoherence of his approach. This isn’t a clever tactic he’s pursuing.

I don't believe he is a supreme tactician or supreme strategist, I believe he is a president that reacts day-to-day, tactically, based on interests, spasms, his perception of domestic political implications and other matters of that kind - which is not very impressive.

We will have to wait not just days, but possibly two or three weeks before we can be certain that this isn’t still going to be escalating.