Monday, August 30, 2010

Lessons of Iraq applied to Iran ...

Richard Haass, in the Daily Star:
"... The 2001 war against Afghanistan and the 2003 war against Iraq were markedly different. Both interventions sought to oust the governments in place at the time, and both succeeded in that goal. I maintain that the effort against Afghanistan was justified (to remove the Taliban government that helped bring about the 9/11 attacks), and that ousting Saddam Hussein was not.
But, regardless of one’s position on these questions, it cannot be disputed that replacing a government with something better and lasting is a different and much more ambitious goal than changing a government’s behavior. Successful regime change requires a long-term commitment of military force, of civilian experts trained to build a modern society, and of money and attention – and even then there is no assurance that the results will justify the investment....
In the case of Iran, the first Iraq war teaches us that economic sanctions will likely not be enough to persuade the Revolutionary Guards (who increasingly dominate the country) to accept verifiable limits on their nuclear program. Sanctions may, however, persuade some other powerful constituencies within Iran, namely the clerics, the businessmen of the bazaar, and political conservatives, to turn on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Revolutionary Guards base.
But, if not, the question of whether to use military force to slow the development of an Iranian nuclear weapon will come to the fore. Only a few governments, at most, will support doing so. No one can predict or assume what a limited attack on Iran’s nuclear installations would accomplish, cost, or lead to. But not acting – in effect accepting Iran’s nuclear might – risks bringing about a more dangerous and possibly costlier future. As a result, it is Iran, even more than Iraq or Afghanistan, where the lessons of the Gulf war are likely to be debated and, ultimately, applied."

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