Last month marked the 10th year (on 19 March 2003 to be exact) since the US-led invasion of Iraq, also known as the Iraq War. This is a war that has cost (for the United States at least) up to three trillion dollars and at least 190,000 deaths – military, ‘contractor’, and civilian(*).
Here is a selection of articles giving a broad overview of reflections.
Leading up to it, James Fallows of The Atlantic magazine ruminates on his initial and consistent opposition (good man!) to the George W. Bush administration’s and neo-conservatives’ folly. Fallows gives a seven-point commentary.
American academic and foreign policy wonk Daniel Drezner does some (perhaps necessary) navel-gazing about how US foreign policy has been affected since 19 March 2003. He has backed off from his initial support of the invasion, but still not repentant regarding the use of force – to achieve security, democracy, or whatever else. Does this then not make him a ‘chickenhawk‘?
And for the love of the gods, Dan, please stop using the phrase ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’. Oh look here, a ‘spade’! I call it what it really was – an INVASION. Of another sovereign state.
Where the neo-conservatives are not mentioned…
Former Ronald Reagan staffer, Republican, and Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan does even more navel-gazing about how the invasion has affected the US Republican Party. (Why do I say ‘navel-gazing’? Hint: No mention of the neo-conservative ‘wing’ – any one of them – and their role, anywhere. Yes, exactly.)
…And where they are
International relations scholar Robert Kelly posits a neo-con ‘theory’ (of international relations or otherwise) behind their justification of the war. Bear in mind that he’s not trying to justify it from their point of view, but rather to come up with a plausible explanation why they pushed so hard for war – and got it.
Personally, I think any such theories are hogwash, flawed to the point of ridiculousness. There are theories and ideologies that are appropriate for certain times, and others that are not. The ‘justifications’ for invading Iraq – including from the so-called liberal
imperialists interventionists – belong to the latter category.
In the meantime, from author and former US State Department employee Peter Van Buren: the World’s. Largest. Embassy. Ever. will soon stand largely empty.
Taylor Marvin ruminates about learning The Wrong Lessons from Iraq.
Daniel Nexon goes more ‘macro’ into IR theory to discuss the over-arching cause of war between as a form of classic ‘interstate rivalry‘ and explores its specific dynamics.
John B. Judis reflects on what it was like to oppose the Iraq invasion in 2003, giving emphasis on the media and perceived credibility of political figures (hint: NOT George W. Bush).
There is also the US failure in Afghanistan, as seen by Stephen Walt. David Rothkopf contemplates the lessons learnt there and in Iraq, while Paul Rogers observes more broadly the ‘war on terror’ and the West’s inability to eliminate violent conflict [The US seems to be able to eliminate lots of human beings, though. I guess that’s why they think they’re ‘an exceptional nation’. – Ed.] (I’m kidding! There’s no ‘Editor’ for this blog.)
And a little blast from the past: Ghassan Michel Rubeiz wrote this in the run-up to the 2008 US presidential elections (Remember that one? Where’s the Hope and Change now?):