Has the high price of the Iraq invasion has kept the US out of Syria?
The worst type of history is that inspired by political rivalry. The
The Obama administration's ethos is largely shaped by this. The Bush administration's neo-conservative ideology of intervention and regime change has been followed by the Democrats' policies of engagement and deal-making with regimes such as
A broader analysis of the effect of the US invasion would have to go back to the 1980s. Under the banner of realpolitik and 'dual containment' -- of both
In 1991, after driving Iraqi troops out of
The same US mentality produced the sanctions that impoverished the Iraqi people and kept Saddam in power until 2003, with hundreds of thousands more dead as a result. Counterfactual questions are necessarily speculative, but it is worth asking whether the Sunni-Shia divide would be as deep as it is now had there not been those eight years of war between
Sectarianism, extremism and indeed terrorism are the product of the environment that existed before the invasion. It is not just the removal of Saddam that caused chaos in
Much of the received wisdom from that time is worth reconsidering ten years on: Do the Arabs really 'hate us' -- to borrow the phrase used endlessly in America? If anything, Arabs on the street, especially young people, seems now to have aspirations closer to American values of freedom and democracy.
In fact, the US may be stronger now in the region than it was when it was allying itself to oppressive regimes. It is obviously more popular with the youth who adopt US pop culture and dress. American soft power is possibly more effective than the old precarious balancing act to keep the Arab dictators in power. Post-colonial hang-ups about intervention seem to have dissipated with the Arab Spring.
More questions can be raised. How much of the chaos that followed the removal of Saddam was caused by the regimes that the US was 'engaging' with?
Did the fall of Saddam break the myth about the power of such dictatorships? It is not unrealistic to think that Saddam's trial could have planted the idea that dictators may face a reckoning in the end. How much did this contribute to the Arab Spring? The Berlin Wall did not fall because somebody kicked it: the ideas propping it up collapsed much earlier, with the Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms in
These questions must contend with the powerful image of US defeat in
When Pelosi visited
A future historian will have to weigh the balance between legality, morality and consequences. The consequences of US policies, not just after the invasion but also before it, would have to be compared. The intervention in
A philosopher with an Iraqi background asks the rhetorical question: 'A young man from the city of Al-Salt in
The US certainly bit off more than it could chew in
- Syria: Chess Match Turned Free-for-All
- Iran's Regional Quagmire
- The Saudi-Iranian Rivalry and the Future of Middle East Security
- Iran's Internal Politics
- Iran's Pursuit of Nuclear Weapons in a Regional Context
- Israeli Apology to Turkey Big First Step But Not Sea Change
- Israel's Insightful Cynicism
- Settlements Still Blocking Middle East Peace Agreement
- With Bus Segregation Israeli Apartheid Becomes More Blatant
- Is Egypt Being Primed for a Coup?
- The Somaliazation of Syria
- Western Intervention in Syria Long Overdue
- Promoting Peace, But Fueling War in Syria
- Flight of Fancy
- Would the Turkish Model Work in Arab Spring Countries?
- Kerry Talks Regional Issues With Gulf Arab Leaders
- Export Oil, Import Water: The Middle East's Risky Economics
- Syrians Risk Their Health to Keep Warm
- Evidence of Syrian Cluster Bomb Use
- Syrian Rebels Capture Most of Key City
- Iranian Nuclear Program World's 'Greatest Challenge'
- Self-Interested Leaders Roil Chaos in Middle East
- Is the American Shadow War Helping Yemen?
- Yemen Faces Talibanization
- Iraq: Washington Looks Away
- Iraq: Three Costly Lessons from the Invasion
- One Day The World Will Thank Bush For Shaking Up The Arab Region
- Iraq: Problems in the Pipeline
- 'The Gatekeepers'
- Palestinians Hope to Tell Their Story Through the Oscars
- Hamas Leaders Keep Low Profile in West Bank
- The Dreams and Dilemmas of Iraqi Kurdistan
- Women Struggle to Find Their Role in Syrian Revolution
- The Consequences of Intervening in Syria
- Syrian Refugees in Iraq Face Harsh Winter
- Syrian Citizens Stuck Between Regime's Rock and the Rebels' Hard Place
- Syrian Businesses Take Refuge in Jordan as War Ravages Aleppo
- Iran's Survival Strategy
- Egyptians Struggle to Keep Hope
- Call for Investigation into Post-Revolution Deaths in Egypt
- Egypt's Hazardous Roads and Railways
- Israel's First-Timers Position for Their 'Moments' in New Government
- Iraq's Sadr Demands 'Fair Implementation' of National Security Laws
- Israel Vows to Build in West Bank Site After Evicting Protesters
- Jerusalem Residents Rejoice: 'Let it Snow, Let it Snow'
- Iran Willing to Resume Nuclear Talks as Sanctions Bite Hard
(c) 2013 By Joel Brinkley, "One Day The World Will Thank Bush For Shaking Up The Arab Region"