I agree with Morgoth.
The American Empire doesn’t have any unifying national heroes like Qasem Soleimani that the Iranians could assassinate in retaliation. A generation of neoliberalism has eroded and fragmented our common culture. The closest thing to an American hero would be a Hollywood actor like Tom Hanks or Clint Eastwood but these seem like unlikely targets.
In light of this, it is more likely that Iran would have to choose some kind of symbolic target like the Twin Towers that al-Qaeda took out on 9/11. The most obvious symbols of American nationalism that come to mind are the Statue of Liberty or Mount Rushmore but attacking inanimate objects would only enrage Americans and wouldn’t really be an eye for an eye. It is also likely that security will be increased at these historic sites on American soil and there are so few of these that it would be hard to do. It would basically be a propaganda video.
The Super Bowl is coming in February. What would be the international impact of blowing up the Super Bowl though? It would horrify the world. The Iranians have already seemed to rule this out because they don’t want to be seen as striking the American people which wouldn’t play well on the international stage. They won’t attack soft targets like a McDonald’s or a Wal-Mart like ISIS would do. Therefore, the most probable target and the easiest target for Iran to strike would be an American ship or military base somewhere in the Middle East.
Americans will rally around “the troops” though. If Iran killed dozens or hundreds of American troops in a strike, this also wouldn’t be a proportional response. The most probable target will be an American general in CENTCOM stationed in the Middle East. It might be too hard to take out a general though so an attack on a ship or base seems likely. Is it really in Iran’s interest to order a strike that kills “the troops” and sets off a chain of events that spirals out of control? Being destroyed by an American war for the benefit of Israel wouldn’t be proportional. It would be suicidal and would play into the hands of the people responsible for this.
What would happen if Iran assassinated Sheldon Adelson, Paul Singer or Bernard Marcus? This would be striking at the root cause of the entire conflict because it is the donations of these three Jewish billionaires to Trump that has set in motion this chain of events. It wouldn’t be nearly as polarizing or unifying. You would think that Adelson, Marcus and Singer’s security is much weaker than a national historic site like the Statue of Liberty.
Would Trump be able to convince the American people to go to war with Iran over a terrorist attack on Sheldon Adelson or his other donors? Iran is going to kill someone in response to this and publicly take credit for it. Who will it be? That’s the only question. The Iranians have publicly said their goal is vengeance for Soleimani’s and deterrence.
The United States is the target of deterrence. How do you deter the United States? You can only do that by raising the cost of American aggression to those who are ultimately responsible for it. That’s not your run of the mill American soldier who is just an expendable pawn to our policymakers but highly valuable to the American people. The logic leads in one direction.
Note: I AM NOT ADVOCATING ASSASSINATING ANYONE. I’m only speculating about the form the Iranian response to killing Soleimani could take. Iran is notorious for these types of assassinations. They have waited years to do this in the past.