In the wake of the U.S. attack that killed Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, head of Iran’s Quds Force, many are concerned yet again about the potential for escalation between the United States and Iran to a general war.
In June, after tensions spiked following attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman that the United States blamed on Iran, we laid out the case for why the two countries were unlikely to fight a general war. We drew on similar arguments in 2018, when we explained why war between the United States and North Korea was unlikely despite the fears of many analysts at the time.
The killing of Soleimani was different
The U.S. killing of Soleimani, an attack on a high-ranking government official, is different from previous moments of international tension during the Trump administration. Soleimani was an important military officer in a sovereign state, rather than the leader of a stateless terrorist organization, like Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In last summer’s oil tanker and drone-downing episodes, the stakes were lower, and there were elements of deniability or ambiguity that were not feasible in the case of killing Soleimani.
Read the full article in The Washington Post.
More from CNAS
CommentaryThe greatest obstacle to returning to the Iran deal isn’t Iran—it’s Congress
Leaving the JCPOA may have cost us the most precious commodity: time. And now, out of time, out of options, it’s hard to see how we’re better off. Let Congress consider that....
By Jonathan Lord
CommentaryA New Nuclear Deal With Iran Shouldn’t Be Accompanied By Terrorist Legitimization
Removing the label of terrorism should take effort on behalf of the offending party, something the Islamic Republic is unwilling to provide....
By John O'Malley
PodcastIran Deal Return Increasingly Uncertain
Elisa Catalano Ewers joins The Warcast to discuss the series of strikes exchanged in Iraq and Syria and their diplomatic ramifications. Listen to the full episode from The Wa...
By Elisa Catalano Ewers
PodcastReturning To The Iran Nuclear Deal Is Essential For Biden's Foreign Policy Agenda
Ilan Goldenberg speaks with Franco Ordoñez about the importance of returning to the Iran nuclear deal for President Biden's foreign policy agenda. Listen to the full conversa...
By Ilan Goldenberg