Millions live in constant fear, refugees do not return home, and the economy is destroyed. The Christian community, some 1.2 million persons before 2003, has been nearly wiped off the Iraqi map. Other minorities have likewise disappeared. Making matters worse, U.S. support for the Syrian rebels next door has drawn the Shi’ite-led Iraqi government into the spreading regional unrest and breathed new life into extremist elements.
The invasion of Iraq opened the door to al-Qaeda in Iraq, which did not exist beforehand, while simultaneously strengthening the hand of Iran in the region. Were the “experts” who planned for and advocated the U.S. attack really this incompetent?
Ryan Crocker, who was U.S. ambassador to Iraq from 2007 to 2009, still speaks of the Iraqi “surge” as a great reconciliation between Sunni and Shi’ite in Iraq. He wrote recently that “[t]hough the United States has withdrawn its troops from Iraq, it retains significant leverage there. Iraqi forces were equipped and trained by Americans, and the country’s leaders need and expect our help.” He seems alarmingly out of touch with reality.
It is clear now that the “surge” and the “Iraqi Awakening” were just myths promoted by those desperate to put a positive spin on the U.S. invasion, which the late Gen. William Odom once called “the greatest strategic disaster in American history.” Aircraft were loaded with $100 bills to pay each side to temporarily stop killing U.S. troops and each other, but the payoff provided a mere temporary break. Shouldn’t the measure of success of a particular policy be whether it actually produces sustained positive results?