Skip to main content

obama iran deal Ron Sachs/ZumaPress

Rapprochements with Rogue States

In his State of the Union address to the US Congress in 2002, President George W. Bush famously described Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as an “axis of evil.” In the years since, however, America has not treated each in the same way – and the differences are highly instructive.

SEOUL – In his State of the Union address to the US Congress in 2002, President George W. Bush famously described Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as an “axis of evil.” In the years since, however, America has not treated each in the same way. The differences are highly instructive.

Bush and his hardline advisers believed that only force or “regime change” would stop these “rogue” states’ terrorism or their programs to acquire “weapons of mass destruction.” So, in March 2003, the United States invaded Iraq, resulting in a state of near-constant civil war for over a decade; an ineffectual central government in Baghdad; and now the rise of the Islamic State.

In Iran, then-President Mohammad Khatami, a political moderate, offered what might have been a reasonable deal to curb the country’s nuclear program. But Bush and his team preferred to pressure Iran with sanctions and military threats, and any hope for a negotiated solution vanished when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad succeeded Khatami in 2005. It was only when another moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, took office in 2013 that hope for a negotiated solution could be revived.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/4xlaRzj;
  1. benami155_ Ilia Yefimovichpicture alliance via Getty Images_netanyahu Ilia Yefimovich/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

    The Last Days of Netanyahu?

    Shlomo Ben-Ami

    In Israel's recent parliamentary election, voters stopped Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's leadership of the country toward xenophobic theocracy. But Israel now faces a period of political deadlock, and it remains to be seen whether Netanyahu really will be politically sidelined.

    2

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions