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The promotion of hawkish figures from Mike Pompeo to John Bolton has given impetus to the idea that some sort of military clash is inevitable.
But as tensions between the US and Iran have been ratcheted up, there is reason to believe that the president is one of the voices in the White House urging restraint.
The president may seek a showdown he can win at a time when a conflict between great powers seems more likely than it has for a generation.
States such as Saudi Arabia, Russia and China are showing a brazen disregard for the rules-based international order.
It caused anger and unease across the West, but the meeting between the Russian president and Donald Trump was not as substantively “historic” as its protagonists may have hoped.
The pantomime is in full swing, but no one knows the end of the script.
The West has still not reckoned with its first mistake in Syria: demanding the removal of Assad.
After the Salisbury poisoning, Britain could rely on the unanimous support of France, Germany and the US in condemning the attack
Nixon also allegedly played up his unpredictability in the Cold War, with the US embroiled in Vietnam.
With China, India and Russia on the rise and Western confidence shaken, how should Britain navigate this new and dangerous world?
Merkel may find it hard to stomach Trump but she will not be wishing away US military power from Europe with any relish.