In the wake of a rollercoaster week of escalatory and de-escalatory signaling between the United States and Iran, both sides appear to have taken a step back from the abyss. Iran’s retaliatory missile barrage did not kill any U.S. personnel and President Trump has not signaled any plans to escalate beyond the killing of General Qasem Suleimani. But the core political stakes of the contest have risen. In response to the killing, Iran sloughed off the remaining limits on its nuclear hedge. Trump reflexively tightened sanctions.
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