Monday, March 13, 2023
How did liberal democracies, led by well-meaning representatives guided by eminent academics and foreign policy specialists, end up inflicting such a calamity on the human race? The invasion triggered a monstrous civil war, with all the attendant horrors: malnutrition, sexual assault, exile. Some 4.4 million Iraqis became refugees, and, according to a Lancet study, 601,000 lost their lives.
The photograph that defined the war, every bit as paradigmatic as the man standing in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square in 1989, was that of Ali Shallal al Qaisi at Abu Ghraib prison, his head covered with a black hood, his outstretched hands attached to electrodes. How many terrorists were inspired by that image? How many jihadi militias grew up in the chaos that followed the removal of the Ba’athist tyranny? One of them turned into ISIS. A war launched intended to drain the swamp where the insects hatched instead ended up incubating the most bloodthirsty and territorially successful terrorist movement since Bolshevism.
Even viewed in purely neoconservative terms, the war was a fiasco. It removed an anti-Iranian regime from the mullahs’ doorstep, thereby inviting more adventurism from ayatollahs who really did specialize in exporting violence. It made a dangerous region vastly more dangerous. It destroyed American prestige. It cost, according to Brown University, $1.7 trillion — cash that would have been handy during the pandemic. Oh, and there turned out to be no weapons of mass destruction.
Thanks Bush. Thanks neo-cons.