Dear President Trump,
Don’t go to war with Iran. If you do so, your legacy will be that of a warmonger. The experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan prove that there will be no path to a true victory in Iran. At best, the United States will spend trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives reducing Iran to a failed state.
In 2003, the United States made a fateful decision by invading Iraq. On the face of it, the goals set forward by the Bush administration sounded noble: remove an erratic dictator, destroy WMDs, and stabilize an unstable region. Saddam Hussein was removed but few WMDs were found and the Middle East has since grown more unstable.
The Islamic State likely wouldn’t exist today if America hadn’t invaded Iraq. Former Iraqi soldiers were key in establishing the Islamic State and provided a corps of trained and armed soldiers. Meanwhile, the Shia-dominated post-war Iraqi government grew closer with Iran, allowing Iranian-backed Shia militias to take root. The war in Iraq was an unmitigated and unnecessary disaster. Don’t make the same unnecessary mistake, President Trump.
Your administration appears to be moving closer to war with Iran itself, urged by war hawks like John Bolton. Yet a war with Iran would be even more costly, in terms of both money and blood, than the failed war with Iraq. The experience in Iraq proved that America’s military might could reign supreme against a standing army. But stabilizing a post-war country is an entirely different matter.
Despite billions of dollars in funding, Iraq continues to teeter on failed-state status. In Afghanistan as well, peace and prosperity remain elusive as more and more of the country falls back under control of the Taliban. While the American military was able to push the Taliban out of Kabul, stabilizing the country has proven to be all but impossible.
A war with Iran would almost certainly produce similar results. At best, the Iranian government would be pushed from power but the country would almost certainly destabilize. Unquestionably, the Iranian people would not be welcoming an American military invasion and American soldiers would find themselves bogged down in fighting against “insurgents” or, from their perspective, “freedom fighters.”
And even reaching this failed end-game scenario would be far bloodier than defeating the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. The Iranian military and the Revolutionary Guard Corps are far more potent than Hussein’s crippled military. While the United States would likely defeat the Iranian military in a traditional military campaign, casualties would be much higher on both sides.
Keep in mind that it’s believed that nearly a half million died as a result of the Iraq war. Millions would likely die if the United States were to go to war with Iran. Thousands of American soldiers would also have their blood spilled. Does any president want to have to call more grieving families, to attend more funerals of the fallen?
And the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have conservatively cost the United States $2.4 trillion dollars. A war with Iran would be far more expensive. Can the United States even afford another costly war with debt in excess of $20 trillion? The war would have to be funded with more debts to be paid by future generations.
Both Iraq and Iran were essentially failed states when the United States invaded. Iraq and Afghanistan were home to only about 25 million each when the United States invaded. Iran is home to over 80 million people spread across a far larger area. Controlling Iran will prove impossible and undeniably the United States would find itself battling guerrilla fighters who will view themselves as freedom fighters. Ultimately, the post-war occupation would consume vast amounts of resources.
Essentially no one outside of a few hawks within your administration and Iran’s enemies, such as Saudi Arabia, want this war. Don’t let them goad you into a war that the American people don’t want. If the United States invades, its international reputation would be in tatters. America would lose any argument of being a bastion of freedom and protector of global peace. Instead, we’d be viewed as belligerent invaders.
If we invade Iran, history may some day view America as the Third Reich of our time. Do you want that to be your legacy? For now, it appears that you, President Trump, are against a war in Iran, but some of your advisers, including John Bolton, are pushing hard for a direct confrontation. If Bolton and his ilk get their way, America, “the land of the free and home of the brave,” could soon find itself viewed as a force of evil on the world stage.
President Trump, you came into power pledging to keep the United States out of costly foreign wars. You need to keep that promise. If you don’t, history will not judge you kindly.