There’s an old story — apocryphal, as the best stories always seem to be — that Richard Nixon asked Chinese premier Zhou Enlai what he thought about the French Revolution, and Zhou said, “It’s too soon to tell.” At first blush, the minicrisis between Iran and the United States appears to have ended well for the U.S., but it may be too soon to tell.

On the positive side of the ledger, Trump’s action rid the world of an effective terror master. Qassem Soleimani, head of the Quds (“Jerusalem”) force, was instrumental in creating Hezbollah, which has been responsible for attacks around the globe and has specifically targeted the United States and Israel. Hezbollah was behind the 1983 bombings of the U.S. embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut.

The Quds force also supports Sunni terrorists like Hamas and al-Qaida (though it fought ISIS) and has carried out multiple terror attacks against Israel. During the Iraq War, Soleimani was “credited” with developing the IEDs that took the lives of at least 600 Americans. U.S. General David Petraeus recounted a message he once received from the terror leader: “Gen. Petraeus, you should know that I, Qassem Soleimani, control the policy for Iran with respect to Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza and Afghanistan.”

Soleimani’s death is likely to be a short-term setback for Iran’s imperial ambitions. Also on the positive side of the ledger is the fact that Iran was reduced to lying to the Iranian people about its retaliation. Rather than risk killing Americans and thereby inviting further conflict, Iran chose to fire (misfire?) missiles at a couple of Iraqi bases while claiming on state media that 80 Americans had died. That was about as clear a climbdown as you get.

On the negative side of the ledger, Iran has now withdrawn from abiding by the limitations of the nuclear agreement, and whatever the flaws of that pact (I strenuously opposed it), it was still better to have Iran in compliance than not. Nor would it be crazy for Iran to conclude, after this humiliation at America’s hands, that nuclear weapons are more desirable than ever.

Further, if our goal was to weaken internal support for the Iranian regime, we may not have succeeded. A month ago, Iran’s cities were rocked by mass protests over the government’s decision to raise gasoline prices by 300%. Now, we have triggered a nationalistic reflex.

If we know anything about the clerics in Tehran, it’s that they nurse long grudges, and they are happy to take revenge on innocent civilians as well as military targets. In 1988, the U.S. destroyed half of the Iranian navy in Operation Praying Mantis. Eight years later, Hezbollah detonated a bomb at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, which housed American Marines. Twenty were killed and nearly 500 wounded.

After Israel assassinated an Iranian nuclear scientist, Iran’s retaliation took the form of targeting Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, and Israeli diplomats in Georgia, India and Thailand. Frequently, Iran disclaims responsibility, as it did regarding the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.

For good or ill, it is unlikely that this chapter is closed.

Mona Charen is a senior fellow at

the Ethics and Public Policy Center.