There is obviously a tough situation in Iran/Iraq also in regards to the USA with the current attacks against American troops at bases in Iraq. Our thoughts and prayers are with the brave American troops who are stationed there. One problem is that much of the Iranian fervor emanates from their religious institutions, which are not allowed to be hit in retaliation.
Sanctions and naval blockade are obvious options, which have been tried before. There are not many options but to cut and run or to stand and fight. The president of Iran and Iranian leadership should be targeted in retaliation. More creative solutions would be to target Iranian oilfields and other economic targets. Personal meetings between the leadership of the US and Iran, along with deeper economic ties would have been a normal path towards having better relation prior to this attack. That does not seem to have worked in this instance.
Iran is currently underestimating the United States’ stomach for war and is underestimating the resolve of the United States. At the same time, Iran has a strong ability to carry out assymetrical attacks, from small speedy boats with explosives, to domestic terrorism. Also, Iran is a nuclear power, with a religious leadership which is stronger perhaps than its secular leadership. Iran used chemical weapons against Iraq in the 1980s , in a war that resulted in the death of millions.
The good thing is that Iran is relatively isolated. China and a few other great powers do have their back economically, but no other nation will build a physical coalition with them, as history shows, except perhaps Lebanon or other smaller less relevant nations. This attack today seems to be similar in effort to the attack on US troops in Lebanon in the 80s (if I remember correctly) which resulted in US casualties and American withdrawal. In the 1970’s Saudi Arabia backed Iran with OPEC oil cuts. Saudi Arabia has a strong air force capability these days thanks to Lockheed Martin. The newer king there seems to have goo relations with President Trump, so Saudi Arabia will likely not be as big of a problem this time around.
So what should the US do? A limited air war is in order. The US should keep a light footprint in targtable areas while relying primarily on air power. Special Forces should be dropped in to key targets, also in order to keep an element of surprise with the enemy. What should be targeted? The best thing would be to capture the Ayatollah. Ultimately, Iran wants to destabilize and take over a weakened Iraq. This will be a long war. The US will have to start recruiting more troops to our ranks. At the same time, we need to highlight our peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts in the rest of the world, in order to keep a good image of the US.
Ultimately, the carrot and stick approach would be best to use, but its possible Iran is acting irrationally, thinking she is stronger than really is. Iran is a difficult country to invade geographically (very mountainness). A limited war will likely lead to a broader war. The problem is that if the United States launched a D-Day style invasion Iran would be nearly impossible to occupy. A cyber-war and freezing their international assets would be prudent. Ultimately, there will be a big war. USA will win via air power and some instances of Special Forces. The US Navy is vulnerable in the Gulf. That is where we will most likely suffer casualties. President Trump did a good job of limiting/screening the number of immigrants from countries which have animosity to the US. Personally, I tend to like Iranian people, and am saddened to see that relations have soured. This attack by Iran was ill-advised. They will sorely regret it.