The early indications are that Iran blinked. The regime dramatically launched ballistic missiles toward U.S. troops and made a big show of it to the world, but it also chose targets where it knew Americans were expecting an attack and would be able to take preparations to reduce or avoid casualties. It was telling that even the threats Iran issued tonight, that if the U.S. retaliates, Iran will attack Israel and Dubai, suggest an unwillingness to engage the U.S. were it to risk actual casualties.
It’s possible that, as the sun rises in Iraq and there is a full assessment, it will reveal there were, in fact, casualties. It also is possible that, even in the absence of casualties, Trump could choose to retaliate in a way that triggers another response from Iran. But that seems unlikely. Remember, when Trump backed off retaliating for Iran’s downing of a drone in June, he said the decisive factor was that it was unmanned. If there were no casualties in this case, Trump has an opening to declare victory and avoid a retaliatory strike. In any event, he certainly can take a pause before making any dramatic moves.