Threat of U.S.-Iran War Eases, For Now: Weekend Reads

Karl Maier
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Threat of U.S.-Iran War Eases, For Now: Weekend Reads

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The U.S. and Iran shied away from a full-scale conflict following the drone attack ordered by President Donald Trump that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and Tehran’s retaliatory strike against U.S. bases in Iraq. In a dramatic reversal, Tehran revealed that its forces shot down a Ukrainian jetliner they mistook for a threat during the hostilities.

Elsewhere, Taiwanese voters cast ballots today as the world’s only Chinese-speaking democracy faces pressure to pick sides in a global power struggle between the U.S. and China.

Dig deeper into these and other topics and click here for Bloomberg’s most compelling political images from the past week.

Iran’s Response Doesn’t Mean Trump Dodged All-Out WarIran’s immediate response to the killing of Soleimani — a Jan. 7 missile attack on joint U.S.-Iraqi military bases that caused no deaths or ­injuries — seemed symbolic. But as Peter Coy explains, that doesn’t mean it won’t strike again. Iran Strike Renews Fight Over Who Has Say on U.S. WarCongress is once again trying to reassert its constitutional role in declaring war. It’s done so only 11 times since 1798, but U.S. armed forces have been sent into battle abroad hundreds of times. But as Daniel Flatley and John O'Neil explain, previous efforts haven’t accomplished much. U.S.-Iran Exchange of Fire Turns Iraq Into Proxy BattlefieldThe tit-for-tat attacks by U.S. and Iran threaten to turn Iraq into a battlefield for an open conflict between a deeply connected neighbor and the world’s military superpower. Marc Champion, Khalid Al Ansary and Caroline Alexander report.

Taiwan Votes, With U.S.-China Power Struggle on the BallotAs Taiwanese voters go to the polls, the self-ruled island’s complex relationship with China is the main political fissure. Samson Ellis and Cindy Wang explain that the expected victory of President Tsai Ing-wen would likely mean four more years of no talks between the two sides on one of the region’s main potential flashpoints. Kuwaiti Cash Fuels a Surge of Misleading U.S. Media CoverageA fake protest, a journalist who may not exist, and $11,500 in payments to U.S. opinion writers — Zachary Mider, Ben Elgin and Joe Light reveal how Kuwaiti cash is fueling misleading media coverage in the U.S.

Macron and Orban Are Now Best of Frenemies for a New EuropeHungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s unlikely alliance with French President Emmanuel Macron may be helping to force the European Union to change its ways, Zoltan Simon and Helene Fouquet report. Fear Haunts Muslims at Center of India’s Violent ProtestsProtests against a citizenship law that discriminates on religious grounds have swept India, with the worst violence concentrated in its most populous state, Uttar Pradesh. Shruti Srivastava and Upmanyu Trivedi explain that Muslim citizens say they’re living in fear of further police retaliation.

Nigeria Faces Challenges of Politicking, Rising Debt in 2020The battle to replace Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari after he completes his second and final four-year term in 2023 is heating up, placing further pressure on an already strained economy. Anthony Osae-Brown and Tope Alake report. Everyone I Know Is Depressed and Medicated: Life in CaracasAlex Vasquez writes about how residents of the Venezuelan capital cope with an epidemic of depression in a land of total disarray. 

Australia’s Vast Wildfires Foretold in 2007 UN Climate WarningMore than a dozen years ago, a United Nations report forecast that the proliferation of greenhouse gases threatened to increase the frequency of extreme fire danger days in south-east Australia. As Edward Johnson writes, that prediction appears to be coming true, with blazes charring a combined area twice the size of Switzerland and continuing to burn.

And finally ... The Catholic Church can no longer cover up cases of sexual abuse by its priests, as growing public awareness escalates the pace of lawsuits. But as Josh Saul explains, besieged church leaders are looking to a new option: bankruptcy. It’s an attractive solution because it provides a controlled process for settling a large number of lawsuits while holding on to as many assets as possible.


--With assistance from Kathleen Hunter.

To contact the author of this story: Karl Maier in Rome at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at

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