The escalating confrontation between the United States and Iran paused on Wednesday, which, as President Trump put it, “is a good thing for all parties concerned.” Having demonstrated that it can strike Iraqi bases where U.S. troops are deployed with precision, Iran announced that it had “concluded” its response to the killing of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani; Mr. Trump, reporting that no Americans were killed or injured by Tehran’s missiles, set aside the sweeping attacks he had threatened on 52 sites inside Iran.
Mr. Trump’s acolytes quickly proclaimed him victorious for having eliminated the architect of Iran’s foreign adventurism while avoiding a more damaging response. That assessment was premature and shortsighted. Iran’s strikes on U.S. interests and allies will almost certainly continue in the coming months. Unless the Trump administration quickly steps up its diplomatic game, what Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called his ultimate aim – the removal of the United States from the Middle East – could soon be realized in Iraq and Syria.