Setting Iran Straight
The precedents are somewhat discouraging.
The war we sustained in Afghanistan destroyed the country, turned half the population into refugees, and killed perhaps a million people. In 1989, the Soviets pulled out of Afghanistan (along with everywhere else, including Russia). But disappointingly, our guerrillas, also called the "mujahideen," kept on fighting—using our weapons—against the government and among themselves. In 1996, one particularly extreme group, the Taliban, took power. It was even more disappointing when the Taliban established an Islamic state more extreme than the one in Iran and invited Osama Bin Laden to make himself at home, which he did.
So, we marched in and got rid of the Taliban. Then we marched into Iraq and got rid of Saddam Hussein. Now we're—well, we haven't figured out what, but we're hopping mad and gonna do something, dammit, about Iran.
And they lived happily ever after.
Michael Kinsley is a columnist for the Washington Post and the founding editor of Slate.