(CNN) — When two important countries appear to be goading each other into a dangerous and meaningless war, it can be useful to take a deep breath, lay the rhetoric aside for a moment, and go back to basics.
The past several weeks have seen a sharp increase in the three-decade war of words between the United States and Iran. Iran has held maneuvers in the critical Strait of Hormuz, combined with threats to interrupt commerce there. The United States has lost its third drone over Iran, and unnamed parties are conducting an unprecedented covert campaign of cyberwar and assassinations inside Iran. Iran says it has broken up a U.S. spy ring and has condemned a U.S. citizen to death.