Containment strategy with Iran has never worked
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In fact, containment never worked -- and it has even less of a chance of working in the future. Its failures have been well documented in yearly reports by the State Department, which detail Iran's ongoing support for terrorism and warn of advances in its nuclear program. Sanctions and other forms of U.S. pressure have failed to prevent Iranian misbehavior. Worse, the Bush administration has taken steps recently that make containment an even less effective policy. Washington's ill-advised invasion of Iraq has benefited Iran by empowering local Shiite parties sympathetic to Tehran. Long gone are the days when a powerful, Sunni-dominated Iraq could function as a counterweight to Shiite power in Iran. Iraq's Shiites are hardly homogeneous, but the leading Shiite parties in power in Baghdad -- Dawa and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq -- have intimate ties to Tehran. This does not mean that Iraq's new leaders are willing to subordinate their interests to those of Iran, but they are unlikely to confront the Islamic Republic at the behest of Washington.
Some have claimed that it may be better to try and adapt to a nuclear Iran through a policy of containment or deterrence rather than trying to prevent their becoming a nuclear power in the first place. This overly optimistic scenario overlooks Iran's history and the irrational rhetoric of its messianic regime.