The salvos of rhetoric between Donald Trump and Iranian leaders last week were incendiary. The US president tweeted at his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani — who had warned that "peace with Iran is the mother of all peace and war with Iran is the mother of all wars" — that any more threats and Iran would "suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered". Iran’s response was unrestrained. General Qassem Soleimani, chief of the Quds Force, the expeditionary branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard that has cut a swath through Arab lands, boasted that he would hit the US in places Trump could not imagine. "You may start this war, but it will be us who decide how to end it," said Tehran’s paladin of paramilitarism in a speech. Inflammatory stuff. Yet after a flurry of headlines the threats fizzled out. Even after Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen reportedly attacked two Saudi oil tankers and Riyadh suspended crude exports through the Red Sea, the sense o...

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