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Iran Debate Ignores The Lessons of Iraq

Peter Beinart : “In most televised discussions of Iran, the word ‘Iraq’ never comes up, and that’s insane. The Iraq War was one of the most important, and damaging, episodes in the history of U.S. foreign policy. The debate preceding it pitted people who believed Saddam Hussein was malevolent but rational against people who believed he might well nuke the United States. It pitted people who trusted that International Atomic Energy Agency inspections could contain Saddam’s nuclear program against people who thought he would build a nuke under the IAEA ’s nose. Most fundamentally, it pitted people who believed that the only way to keep America safe was to force Iraq’s utter capitulation, via regime change, against people who preferred an imperfect accommodation that did not risk war.”  

“Obviously, the circumstances in Iraq and Iran are different. And smart people may offer smart explanations for why the demand for capitulation that proved so disastrous in America’s dealings with Iraq is well-suited to America’s dealings with the country on Iraq’s eastern border. My point is merely this: These people should be required to offer those explanations.”  

“Again and again, pundits who championed the invasion of Iraq—people like Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer—appear on television advocating the same worldview they advocated in 2002 and 2003, and get to pretend that nothing has happened over the last 15 years to throw that worldview into question… To a degree that will baffle historians, the political-intellectual complex that made the Iraq War possible remains intact, and powerful.”

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