The War in Iraq Has Shown Us What Not to Do in Iran

The War in Iraq Has Shown Us What Not to Do in Iran

Mitchell Blatt

Security, MiddleEast


After 5,700 Americans killed, well over 100,000 Iraqis killed, $3 trillion in expenditures, and no democracy in Iraq, we ought to have learned that hope and sloganeering do not change the brutal reality that outside intervention by foreign powers does not bring democracy or peace by themselves.

Americans are suckers for a good story about freedom fighters rising up for democracy against a tyrannical government. But before we get fooled again, we ought to take a careful, dispassionate look. Trying to bring about a democratic Iran by force would result in even greater tragedy than the failed two-decades-long efforts in neighboring Iraq. 

The claims that a majority of the Iranian people are viscerally opposed to the theocratic regime in power and would welcome American bombs to “liberate” them are worse than overstated; the claims are false. Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani is one of the most popular figures in Iran, with 80 percent of Iranian citizens viewing him favorably.

The decision by Donald Trump to kill Suleimani via drone strike only helped Iran quell much of its internal political dissent. Richard Engel of NBC News reported, “young people in Tehran, old people in Tehran, are uniting behind the government.” Veteran Iran journalist Rohollah Faghihi similarly argued that the “formerly divided” Iranian people are “standing firmly behind the government.”

It is a completely predictable outcome when a foreign government kills an official of one’s government and threatens war on one’s homeland—explicitly threatening historical and cultural sites, even. 

Not just Iran, the United States is losing Iraq, too.

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