I see the whole world got excited because the Americans launched a nice missile on someone. It was a long time since that happened, and we were missing that bulgar display of power (the typo is wanted) that does so war-porn. In reality, however, there is little to celebrate.
There is little to celebrate because the reasons for the attack are those of a catastrophic failure. From which Trump tries to get up, and if the Iranians understand the game well, without success.
The excuse that Soleimani was preparing a gigantic attack on a US embassy is ridiculous: those who do this do not move on an airliner, landing at the airport with lots of friends who come to pick you up waiting for you in the parking lot. Only an idiot would believe it.
First, Trump needs war for internal political reasons. The impeachment runs, and although it's unclear how it should work, it remains to be determined whether a dismissed president can run again in the election.
The problem is just this: the impeachment is fresh air, because on the "after" there is no clear legislation. It means that it is not known well, in case the big jury decides to put down the president, what should happen. I mean, what actually happens? Is Pence in power? The one who does not enter the elevator with women who are not his wife because God (the Catholic one) does not love such sinful promiscuity? … sseriously?
But even assuming he is dismissed, it is not known exactly what the procedure would be, because it never happened. What if it doesn't go away? Are you forced out of the White House by wiry Marines? Is he being whipped by Mistress Ruby Enralls? (quite famous in Washington and Seattle, it seems). No one knows, because it never happened before.
And even after he was deposed, could he still stand in the 2020 elections? Not even this is known. Legislation on something that has never happened before, especially around elections, is completely absent.
However, it is presumed that the next elections could be lost if the jury claimed that he had committed a crime of high treason in the country. Moreover, in the USA it provides for a modest penalty: the question is whether this jury has criminal powers, and the answer seems to be NO. But nothing prevents that, once dismissed, a real court incriminates him, he must remain president, and he must also do so by increasing consensus.
So Trump is trying to put himself in the position of "President of War", a situation in which American voters hardly change "the captain", or as they say "commander in chef".
The first point to understand is that the killing of Soleimani is an act of weakness, not strength. Moreover, Soleimani was hit because he was in a very predictable position, since he was on a boarding list of a plane coming from Damascus. It cannot be said that he was too careful to lose his tracks.
The second weakness is that this deployment of military and technological force, in an area where the Russians observe, listen and study everything, has a specific purpose. Let's understand each other: with such a stupid cover (getting off a civilian plane at an airport and reaching a car waiting for you with an escort) it would have been possible to kill him in fifty different ways, from the sniper to the car bomb nearby. Why did they use a drone?
Because they need to convince the world that their weapons work fine. Which many begin to doubt. The reason is that they have sold the flower of their systems and their training to the Saudis, who are failing miserably in regaining a piece of land. The whammy for the American arms industry is strong. Especially after 4/5 years of showing new Russian weapons, a show that lasted practically throughout the war in Syria, an incredible advertisement for Russian weapons, which are also cheaper. And if your allies don't buy your weapons either (see Turkey-S400), you don't look good.
So they needed something that said "hey, we're still here. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BANG, BANG, BANG !! ". So they used the top of the top of the advanced weapon system, an autonomous decision drone that launches missiles on a human target, to testify that they are still very cool and have very cool weapons. Four missiles on a single human being seem to say otherwise, but the effect is assured: everyone is focusing on the news that the general was so run down that they recognized him from the ring he wore. (To say, what a tamarro that should be).
Another reason why Trump had to use force is that the pressures so far have failed. The sanctions had no significant effects, not least because Europe did not cooperate, or pretended to do so. The isolation of Iran failed, because European companies simply chose proxies to do business, and in the end it all resulted in a debacle of American "soft power". It is clear that the US no longer has the alliance system that serves to strangle IRAN.
It is a way of saying "I am strong enough even without allies". But this only testifies one thing: that it is without allies. And this is noticeable. It is noted when Macron says that NATO is now dead, it is noted when Turkey threatens the US to close American bases on its territory. NATO is a walking dead, and Trump must make it clear (or believe) that Israel is enough.
Another problem is Turkish expansionism in Libya. Turkey has so far threatened Europe with refugees, but now the Balkan countries have armored the borders so much that hardly anyone would pass. Turkey needs a broader blackmailing tool against the EU, and the Libyan migrants' route may be a second blackmailing tool against the EU.
In this case too, however, Turkey is under American pressure. And when you can't even convince Turkey, a traditional ally, the world sees a single and isolated nation. Trump's response is "Israel and Saudi Arabia are enough for me, I don't need anyone else." I think in Moscow they are still laughing at this.
Another point is nuclear power. The Iranians are centrifuging handcuffed uranium, and high pressure from international pressures is taking place. It is only a matter of a few months, and then the first atomic bomb in Tehran will see the light on seismographs all over the world. Unless someone offers to host the test, like Russia. Again, a sensational defeat for American foreign policy.
Everything, in the last 4 years, speaks of an impotent or increasingly irrelevant and isolated America.
The killing of General Soleimani is the gesture of a president who has many problems, primarily a system of alliances which he himself has destroyed . It is a gesture of force that serves to compensate for the dissolution of Washington's "soft-power".
And the Iranians, who are not stupid, know it well.
Now what happens? It depends on how clever the Iranians are. And the smartest thing they could do is put an even more fanatical hawk in the general's place, and proceed as always.
Turning what Trump sells as a "show of strength" into a "Business as Usual" (toh, well, Americans know how to launch missiles in a car. Who would have said that?)
This is the worst thing Tehran could do: just shrug in the face of the act of American arrogance, and take revenge on Saudi Arabia. It means providing more and better weapons to Yemeni guerrillas, and waiting for some civilian target to be hit, to demonstrate that American defense systems are not needed. (and no, for the defensive task of defending Saudi Arabia they are not needed, they were designed with the idea that the weapon creates the use-case, and not vice versa: the use of Borkan missiles was not foreseen, and in fact they failed miserably: the Patriots of the Saudis did not even fly.)
So, I don't think there will be a Third World War that everyone is afraid of. I mean, there won't be any for this. Trump knows perfectly well that it would all be on the shoulders of the Americans, that Turkey, European NATO, everyone except Israel and Saudi Arabia would turn their backs on it, showing that the King is Naked: that the USA is alone.
What the Iranians will do is probably to attack Saudi Arabia in retaliation, probably by proxy. In this way the American public will find themselves in the frustration of not being able to defend an ally, with the most advanced American weapons, that the Saudis have paid billions and billions. And they are working very badly.
They will hardly attack the American bases in Syria: those who fight want the choice of place and time, and the place for the soldiers is chosen by those who make the base, the moment was chosen by the USA with the elimination operation. Iranians are not that stupid.
The most likely thing I see is that the Iranians will sell more or less weapons to all anti-American militias, including the Taliban in Afghanistan, and then everything else will happen via proxy. Another reason why I believe they will act via a proxy is that acting directly would excuse the US to invoke the NATO alliance to react. Not being able to use the UN as a legal cover (Russia and CHINA have a veto right, and they also risk having against France) to force the allies to follow them in a war with Iran, the US must hope to be attacked openly for to be able to invoke article five of NATO.
But if Iran shrewdly acts and shrewdly armed some militias, the US can only ask allies for support, even if only politically, for an attack on Iran. But since their popularity with Trump is too low, hardly any government (except perhaps the British one?) Will send soldiers.
The worst thing, with a high cost / damage ratio to the enemy, is this: act under proxies by striking Saudi Arabia, which has proved to be a very weak military country during operations against Yemen.
This would put Trump in need to act, but he could not invoke any treaty to force allies. And for Iran, and with them Russia, it would mean publicly exposing the end of the US "soft power" and their isolation.
This has low costs, low risks, huge impact. It is unlikely that Russians and Iranians will not see the opportunity, so I would go in that direction.
Then, the story could also prove me wrong. We'll see.
But those who believe that the killing of Soleimani is an act of force is very wrong.
It is an act of weakness, and also very strong.