Twenty years after President George W. Bush ordered U.S. forces to invade Iraq, we are just now beginning to glimpse what that conflict produced by way of outcomes. Who won? Well, not the United States, that’s for sure.
It appears increasingly that the victor’s laurels belong to the People’s Republic of China, which prudently avoided any direct involvement in the Iraq War whatsoever. Rather than a go-for-broke war of choice, China opted for diplomacy. That effort now shows signs of paying off.
Looking past the fog of propaganda generated by Bush and his lieutenants, Operation Iraqi Freedom had almost nothing to do with freeing Iraqis. Its actual purpose was to crush any doubts about who calls the shots in the Persian Gulf. The humiliation of 9/11—the United States unable to fend off a brutal attack by nineteen hijackers—had called American regional primacy into question. A quick, decisive victory over Saddam Hussein would teach an object lesson to any nation or group tempted to have a go at the United States.
Alas, the war did not follow the Bush administration’s script. I will refrain from reiterating the tangible costs sustained by the United States—the thousands of U.S. dead, maimed, and mutilated and the trillions of dollars expended, all without benefit. Suffice it to say that in the contemporary ranking of self-inflicted wounds, the U.S. invasion of Iraq ranks right up there with the 1979 Soviet incursion into Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein’s abbreviated annexation of Kuwait in 1990.
Read the full piece in The American Conservative.