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A Path to War With Iran

How Washington’s Escalation Could Lead to Unintended Catastrophe

Iran's Revolutionary Guards fire missiles during a war game near the holy city of Qom, November 2006 Fars News / Reuters

When President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal last May, many critics argued that he risked setting off a chain of events that could lead to war. The nuclear deal wasn’t perfect, supporters of the deal acknowledged, but if the United States precipitously walked away and the deal collapsed, Iran might resume its nuclear enrichment program, and to stop it, the United States would end up with no option but to use force. This in turn could ignite a wider conflagration. But administration officials and other opponents of the deal dismissed such concerns—even as they insisted that in the agreement’s absence, the best way to block Iran’s nuclear program was with the “credible military option.”

Now the inevitable escalation cycle seems well under way. As part of its “maximum pressure” campaign, in the past month alone the United States has

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