In Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States found that conquering a country is the easy part. It’s the occupation that proves costly. While occupying Iran would be at least as difficult as the Iraqi and Afghan occupations, even invading Iran would prove enormously challenging. Consequently, while conquering Iran is the most sustainable way to prevent it from building a nuclear weapon, Washington is unlikely to attempt to do so anytime soon.
Zachary Keck is managing editor of The National Interest. You can find him on Twitter: @ZacharyKeck. (This fist appeared in 2015 and is being reposted due to reader interest.)