Our Imaginary Foe

Finding monsters under the bed and bogeymen in the closet. Why exaggerating the Iranian threat is bad for U.S. foreign policy.

Issue: May-June 2008

IRAN'S THEOCRATIC leaders are not an attractive group of men. Their behavior and their public statements provide much ammunition for those who are convinced their regime should be toppled. Iran is a dangerous country.

But Iran does not pose an existential threat to the United States analogous to imperial Japan, Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. It is not a rising superpower that threatens to dominate the globe-a regional troublemaker, yes. But "confronting Iran" should not become the guiding focus of U.S. foreign policy.

You must be a subscriber of The National Interest to access this article. If you are already a subscriber, please activate your online access. Not a subscriber? Become a subscriber today!