Shock and awe over Baghdad, 2003. (Faleh Kheiber / Courtesy Reuters)

The Iraq War might seem a thing of the past. But nearly ten years after combat began, the United States and its allies are using policies to address the Iranian nuclear challenge that are eerily similar to those it pursued in the run-up to Operation Enduring Freedom. Just as they did with Saddam Hussein, concerned governments have implemented economic sanctions, diplomatic isolation, and low-level violence to weaken the Iranian regime and prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons, with the long-term objective of regime change. In Iraq, and seemingly now in Iran, diplomacy and inspections became a means to an end: building up a casus belli. The strategy failed miserably in Iraq a decade ago. It probably will in Iran, too.

This is not to suggest that Iran poses no threat. Tehran has reached the threshold of having a nuclear weapons capability.

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  • ROLF EKÉUS, a former Swedish Ambassador to the United States, was Executive Chairman of the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq from 1991 to 1997. MÅLFRID BRAUT-HEGGHAMMER is Stanton Nuclear Security Junior Faculty Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.
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