Last night, alarm claxons went off throughout the nation of Iraq when Iran launched a reported 22 cruise missiles, striking two U.S. military bases: Ein al-Assad airbase in the west and the other in Erbil in the far north.

Seventeen were fired at al-Assad, five falling short and harmlessly landing away from the base. Erbil faced five missiles in the mountainous region to the north in the Kurd held territory.

Despite the sensational information in the information above, the keyword for me is the "west."

Iran has sworn to avenge the death of their most capable terrorist –  whoops, I mean "military commander" – General Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a President Trump ordered a drone attack on his caravan near the Baghdad airport early on January 2.

It appears they have begun to carry through with this oath last night, launching cruise missiles into Iraq, attacking the United States at our bases.

But it's telling that they bypassed easier targets much closer to their border with Iraq in the east, choosing an airbase located west of Baghdad, some 200 miles from the border, and a remote base to the far north near the Kurds' biggest city but separated by rugged mountains.

It should also be noted that Iran warned Iraq first. Iran knows the Americans probably intercept such communications and that Iraq would at least warn the U.S. of the impending attacks.

The missiles were picked up by U.S. coalition radar as soon as they were fired and troops were able to get to secured bunkers to prevent the loss of lives. Structural damage to the bases is still classified mostly, but the attack appears to have been more of a shaking fist of rage than a clenched one landing a punch to the nose.

Iran's state-run news reported that they'd killed 80 American troops as well as Iraqi troops housed with American forces, but both Iraq and U.S. officials claimed there were no casualties and that around one in three missiles were fails, falling harmlessly away from their targets. The others hit the area within the sprawling base but so far appear to have done no serious damage.

After speaking with experts on the subject, it seems the theory of an intentional flop by Iran has another possibility as well.

I believe it's possible that Iran chose Ein al-Assad airbase because it allowed for human beings to duck for cover. Intentionally, Iran wanted to show the Muslim world that they will fight, but not risk it all with a war with the United States. They saved face.

My expert who served as an officer in the U.S. Army in the Delta Force and more recently has served in the CIA believes a less merciful plot took place last night. His secondary concern after the blasts of the strikes was in the content of the missiles. Were they biologically or chemically dangerous?

He also thinks they were fired toward targets where Kurds and Sunni Muslims live and not where Shiite Muslims live. Had Iran attacked with collateral damage, they would lose no sleep if the losses were Kurds, Americans or Sunni. Shia losses would put at risk their influence over the Iraqi Shiite community and possibly create a great setback in their influence westward.

Either way, Iran has already shown its sophistication in their guided cruise missiles. They recently struck targets at Saudi Arabian oil refineries with an impressive level of accuracy considering they were much farther than last night's, which should have been easy to hit with precision.

As I said before yesterday, the only thing that has changed is that Iran appears to be prepared to take responsibility for when they attack America. I actually prefer this over their cowardly terrorist/guerilla tactics when they deny it.

It reminded me of seeing a guy at a college party who, after drinking shots of "liquid courage" would take a swing at his bully, but whisper to his friends just before swinging, "Hold me back."

The theocratic Iranian regime's primary objective is to stay in power. Had they actually killed an American last night, their navy would be a memory, their nuclear sites would have been MOAB-ed down to the mantle of the earth and their oil refineries rendered inoperable for months.

I believe if they want a war, they will wait a year or two until they build their nuclear arsenal of weapons which they now promise will happen. Without negotiations to end this goal, there will be a catastrophic end to the regime in Iran.

If enforcement fails, Israel will take out the nuclear sites and a possible World War III will commence, something that President Trump or President (gulp) Bernie Sanders would have to face.

On a side note, it would be interesting to see the Iraqi parliamentary vote take place today on the day after Iran's missile attack there with regards to the matter of expelling the American forces from the nation.

It may now occur to them that sooner or later (it's sooner), Iran and Iraq will have some serious difficulties and the American military might come in handy during these cruise missile strikes.

Ken Pittman is the host of The Ken Pittman Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Contact him at ken.pittman@townsquaremedia.com. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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