Many hawks in Washington are wondering why the United States hasn’t already responded with military force against Iran in the Middle East. The Iranians are increasingly bellicose in Syria and in the Persian Gulf. They’ve seized oil tankers and sabotaged others with mines in international waters. Most importantly, they’ve openly violated the uranium enrichment and storage thresholds in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — more commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal. Many want to know, what are we waiting for?

President Trump, much to the chagrin of those hawks and many Democrats, has not responded with anything other than his typical Twitter lambasting of the Iranian government. The smarter members of his cabinet have changed the course of impending missile strikes, at least for now.

The president hasn’t fallen into the easy and not-so-smart knee-jerk reaction of launching missile strikes at the Iranians, when it seems like that is exactly what they want — because, in essence, it is exactly what they want.

Iran’s leaders are playing a dangerous game here, but they’ve done their homework and believe they know how any scenario with the U.S. will play out. The Iranian powers don’t have a Congress or central government to answer to. While there may some debate between the hardliners and the more moderates, there is no separation between the political and military there. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps controls not only the military but has a grip on the political and economic arenas as well.

So, what would the end game be in a United States-Iranian conflict? President Trump has already said, the U.S. is not seeking regime change, so a ground war is not only not in the cards but the last thing the Pentagon needs while continuing the endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the on-going conflict in Syria.

Trump’s presidential campaign was based on two key points, to improve the economy and no more Middle East wars. So, while the U.S. isn’t seeking regime change, Tehran is. A shooting war with the United States may be painful in the short-term for Tehran, but they have shown they’re more than willing to sacrifice troops as they’ve done in Syria and Lebanon to further long-term goals. Plus, they believe a shooting war with the U.S. would have a disastrous effect on Wall Street, in addition to swinging the upcoming 2020 election away from Donald Trump. That’s why they’re trying to provoke the United States to attack.

Any overt military action by the United States would further strengthen the Islamic Republic’s hold over an increasingly agitated populace. Widespread protests in late 2017 and early 2018 got the attention of the regime. The Sunni minority, who are treated as second-class citizens, would slow their protests and back their nationalist feelings if the conflict came with America.

The Israelis, the archenemy of the Islamic Republic regime, also have an election upcoming in late September. Many in the intelligence circles expect the Iranians to plan something around that time, what many are calling an “October surprise.” It would almost certainly include Hamas and Hezbollah, Iranian proxies who take their orders from Tehran, not locally. They know anything drastic before the election would likely swing that upcoming election back to Benjamin Netanyahu.