President Trump at the White House on May 4. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

In George F. Will’s reference in his June 10 op-ed, “Mr. Kim’s brand of deterrence,” to the 12 “basic requirements” to avoid stringent punitive sanctions issued by the Trump administration to Iran, I detected a foreboding historic reverberation.

Mr. Will suggested the absurdity of Iran acceding to those requirements with a joke: Why not add a 13th requirement, that the Shiite nation become Methodists?

But no one would be laughing if the outcome resembled the demands that the Habsburg Empire presented to Serbia in July 1914. Those demands were deliberately calibrated to be rejected, to create a pretext for a limited war, to teach that puny nation a lesson. A limited war to bolster support for the decadent leadership of a declining empire.

Instead, those demands became the nexus of a conflagration that not only destroyed millions of lives but also destroyed the Habsburg Empire. Our present leaders engage in such brinkmanship at every corner of the globe — even with our closest allies. But if history offers any lessons, it is the fragile nature of peace and the metastatic nature of war.

Given our leaders’ apparent ignorance of those properties, it will be miraculous if we are not immersed in a cataclysm that would dwarf World War I before this administration is through.

Alan Abrams, Silver Spring