The American Interest

Avoiding the Iranian Debacle

It takes neither  unique intellectual brilliance nor supernaturally honed intuitive skills to predict the consequences of hazardous foreign-policy moves.  On numerous occasions over the past decade and a half, I have advised against U.S. military interventions not because of my visceral isolationist zeal, but because I deemed the consequences of those actions to be contrary to the interests of this country and its people, viewed through the “realist” prism.  Will support for the Muslims in Bosnia buy us any brownie points in the Islamic world at large?  Cui bono from bombing Serbia?  What is the definition of “victory” in Afghanistan, or in Iraq?  Is Qaddafi really worse—as far as our security and energy interests are concerned—than his foes?

Being proved right is no cause for satisfaction, however, because the foreign-policy “community” in Washington, D.C., does not learn from its mistakes.  Its key players behave like lunatics whose failures inspire them to redouble their efforts.  Some of them are clamoring—yet again—for war with Iran, although there is no new evidence that Iran is pursuing a nuclear-weapons program.  Claims that Tehran is doing so were first made a quarter of a century ago by Jane’s Defence Weekly, which went so far as to predict that Iran’s first...

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