Israeli PM Netanyahu
Israeli PM Netanyahu

US President Joe Biden told Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a call today that the US will oppose any Israeli direct counterattack against Iran, according to an Axios report that cited a 'senior White House official.'

Two things:

1) If the US doesn't want a war, this makes sense. Aside from oil prices, I can see plenty of reasons that Biden wouldn't want this war now.

2) Could this be a smokescreen? Things like this don't 'leak' out of the White House. This would be some of the most-highly classified information on the planet. So was it leaked to pressure Israel? To lower expectations of the US actually getting involved? Or is it a fake to get Iran to let its guard down?

The answer to that might have to do with what was said behind closed doors when Iran briefed the US, Italy and a number of other countries before its response.

Iran could told have told diplomats an approximation of what it was going to do and could have said no one was likely to get injured. It may have also launched several ballistic missiles into very sensitive regions to prove that it could. Reports (if they're true) said Iran hit close to an Israeli military base and near a port on the far side of the country. The message there could be to say: We missed on purpose but could hit you wherever we want. Maybe Iran was looking for an opportunity to show Israel that its defenses weren't iron clad? Perhaps all the forewarning and easy-to-shoot down drones were performative and a gift to Israel to show the people at home the strength of its defense.

Iran obviously thinks that's how it will be taken, that's why this tweet was so clear. If it has the desired effect, you could argue this is the most-important tweet ever sent.

Iran tweet

The timing, clarity and wide reach of made it abundantly clear that Iran doesn't want a war.

So Iran doesn't want a war. We can also take the White House at face value that it also doesn't want a war.

The frightening miscalculation here would be if Netanyahu does want or a war, or feels that he must respond to this. And if he must and the US is sincere, then is there some kind of further face-saving move that he could do without US support and without provoking Iran further? Will he try to walk that dangerous line?

Or maybe he thinks now is the right time to deal with Israel's arch enemy forever?

It's a dangerous 24 hours ahead.