What Iraq Can Teach Us


Millman hopes we won’t repeat our mistakes:

From the end of the Gulf War through to the very eve of the Iraq War, there was almost no serious discussion about our goals for relations with Iraq. The assumption was that there could be no goals with the existing regime, and our goal, even before 1998, was for the Saddam Hussein regime to fall. What our other goals might be were not even in the frame until that was achieved. As a consequence, war looked not so much like a “choice” as an “option” – the only one certain to achieve our primary goal – and all other “options” were evaluated in terms of the trade-off between lower cost and lower-likelihood of success.

That’s why it’s so vital that the conversation about Iran be reframed. Our goal should be normal, peaceful relations with Iran – whatever its regime.

Our new discussion thread on the Iraq War is here.

(Left photo: U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell holds a vial representing the small amount of Anthrax that closed the U.S. Senate last year during his address to the UN Security Council February 5, 2003 in New York City. Powell was making a presentation attempting to convince the world that Iraq is deliberately hiding weapons of mass destruction. By Mario Tama/Getty Images.  Right photo: Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, while attending the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, 2012, points to a red line he drew on a graphic of a bomb meant to represent Iran’s nuclear program. By Mario Tama/Getty Images)