from Iraq War Regrets in The National Review, a compendium of analysis.


Those who made the case for war in Iraq — and defended the war throughout — should not feel the remorse of responsibility about recent developments. The Islamic State’s takeover, and the resulting slaughter of Christians, children, and minorities, is not the inevitable result of the 2003 invasion — but instead the unfortunate manifestation of American indifference toward Iraq since 2009.

Regardless of the merits of the 2003 invasion — which I still believe to be justified — the surge of U.S. forces in 2007 and 2008 created an environment in which a multi-ethnic, mostly moderate, and quasi-stable U.S. ally could (could!) flourish in the Middle East. If only we had shown the military and diplomatic patience to stick by them . . . imagine the value of such a state in today’s Middle East!

Instead, fulfilling campaign promises and ignoring military advice, President Obama rushed for the exits in Iraq and later shirked red-lines in Syria. As a result, Maliki marginalized political opponents in order to consolidate power and radical Islamists counterattacked to exploit resulting vacuums. The result is the disaster we see in Iraq today.

All of this was preventable, not by keeping Saddam in place in 2003, but by finishing the reinvestment America made in 2007. George W. Bush had the courage to double down in 2007 in Iraq to make it work. Obama undid his progress. And Iraq suffers today because of that latter choice.