The utter failure of Iraq

Great post from Ezra putting Iraq in big picture perspective:

The news that the US and Iran might cooperate to save Iraq’s government is a measure of just how badly the Iraq war failed to achieve its aims…

This is crucial context for the Iraq War. The Bush administration didn’t just want to invade Iraq because of Saddam Hussein’s (nonexistent) stockpile of illegal weapons. They wanted to invade Iraq to create a liberal, democratic counterweight to radical Islam. They wanted to create a country that would, through its glittering example, erode the foundations of Iran’s theocratic regime and al Qaeda’s deadly ideology.

It was called the Democratic Domino Theory. First Iraq would become a beacon of political freedom and economic success. Then, one by one, the populations across the rest of the Middle East would rise up and force their countries to follow. The war on terror wouldn’t end with a fight. It would end with a vote…

A decade later Iraq is becoming the things it was meant to destroy. It could become a Shiite dominated state dependent on Iran for its security. It could become a weak or broken state that serves partly as a haven for the Sunni terror organization ISIS. It could end up as both.

The one thing it will not be is the liberal, democratic counterweight to radical Islam that the Bush administration sought. There is no one in the Middle East who looks to the Iraqi state and sees a better life for them and their children.

The totality of the Bush administration’s failure in Iraq is stunning. It is not simply that they failed to build the liberal democracy they wanted. It’s that they ended up strengthening theocracies they feared…

And all this cost us trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives.

Yep.  Meanwhile, Dick Cheney– the wrongest of the wrong and a genuine war criminal– has the nerve to blame it all on Obama.  Nice takedown by James Fallows.  And a much more strongly worded response from truth-out concludes thusly:

Really, there’s no one who’s done more to damage America’s reputation around the world and embolden our enemies than our former Vice President.

The Iraq War was the best Al Qaeda propaganda video ever, and whatever Cheney might say about the surge and how successful it was, the truth is that there were no terrorists in Iraq before we invaded…

American history has had its share of villains – J. Edgar Hoover, Joe McCarthy, and Richard Nixon come to mind as some of the worst – but there is no one in recent history who has disgraced our country quite like Dick Cheney has.

He lied his way into an illegal war, profited off that war, and shredded the Constitution. He’s a war criminal and has the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocent people on his hands.

Dick Cheney should be rotting in a prison cell at The Hague, not writing editorials for the Wall Street Journal.

I’m sure there’s reasonable arguments to be made about what Obama could have done differently and better with regards to Iraq.  But it’s kind of like blaming a firefighter who used bad hose technique for a house burning down rather than blaming the arsonist who spread gasoline and lit the match.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

One Response to The utter failure of Iraq

  1. R. Jenrette says:

    The idea that the Bush-Cheney goal in Iraq was to create a democratic state to be an inspiration for the rest of the Middle East is just as wrong as the idea that they started the war because Saddam Hussein had WMDs. When the WMD reason proved to be false, they threw the creating Democracy ball out.
    They thought throwing out Saddam and creating a friendly government in Baghdad would be very, very profitable. And it was for their supporters. The rest of us have paid and will pay trillions over the years and apparently we will keep paying for decades.

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