I am using the title of Jim Sciutto’s book for a reason. And incidentally, that is a book you should read.
What we are to expect now is the continuation of a war in the shadows that’s been ongoing for forty years. We know this because according to CBS News:
Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who is the head of the Revolutionary Guard’s Aerospace Force, also said the attacks, in which no one was killed, marked the beginning of a string of attacks across the region, Iranian state television reported, according to Reuters.
He said Iran simultaneously carried out a cyberattack against U.S. drone and plane navigation systems.
What Iran and the United States just did was step away from open warfare. Why? There is no appetite in either country for open war, well except among a subgroup of American conservatives who love war. And yes, I wrote that, because people like Sean Hannity and Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham were talking that way just forty-eight hours ago.
At least Graham has served in uniform, but I doubt he did anywhere near a front line. Yes, being downrange in a firefight makes a difference in how you think about war, and how much fun it is. The further away from the front lines, the easier it is to fantasize about the glory of war. Dealing with the actual blood, guts and pain clarifies your perspective I suppose.
However, we are back into a war in the shadows where both sides will continue to act and react. How the Iranians will do this is a good question. But there are a few things that may happen in the next few years, (Iranians play the long game, we don’t) include things like cyberattacks on American banking and infrastructure. Targeted assassinations may be on tap as well, and this includes American civilian leadership. This is why targeted assassinations are usually avoided.
The Iranians will use the many organizations they have stood across the Middle East, but you can also expect government organizations to play a role. Their equivalent of Congress already declared the US Military a terrorist organization, which is tat for us declaring the Quds force (the tit) the same.
The history of this is quite long. We have seen this for the last forty years. Most of these have remained in the shadows. It will continue. Incidentally, if there is a thing the Iranians (and others as well) are pretty good at, is this asymmetrical warfare.
There will be blowback. And the shadow war escalated with that march towards open warfare. It would be best if both governments found a way to stand down in both the overt and covert warfare. This will not happen under the current administration. Almost all wars end around a table, with people who can’t stand each other talking to each other. In the end, people learn to live with each other. This is a reality that is clear to students of history. It is rare where the defeat of one side is absolute. And the last time that happened was World War Two. We are nowhere to the level of civilian and military mobilization. Nor do we have the taste in this country for that kind of total war. In fact, we did not have it after 9–11.