Neither the United States nor Iran really wants war, we are told, because the reality of such a conflict is too horrific to contemplate. But the Gulf tanker crisis and the US response shows that we are alarmingly close to open hostilities.
It is true that there are voices in the US defence establishment calling for restraint. It appears to be the case, too, that the Iranian government is operating on the assumption that the US does not want a war. But there are several reasons why such assumptions are not a sound basis for judgement.