This quote from Emma Sky, founding director of Yale University’s International Leadership Center, who served as political adviser to the Commanding General of U.S. Forces in Iraq, is the kernel of Tom O’Connor’s retrospective in Newsweek on the U. S. invasion of Iraq which began 20 years ago today:

“The Iraq War undermined the rules-based international order,” Sky said, “and America’s reputation as the standard bearer of democracy.”

I recommend reading the piece in full.

I have seen an enormous amount of historical revision connected with the U. S. invasion of Iraq over the last several days. Suffice it to say that IMO the only way you can characterize Iraq as freer today than it was 20 years ago is to define Islamism as freedom. That would make Saudi Arabia and Iran among the freest countries in the world which certainly goes against any Western idea of freedom let alone an American idea of it.

11 comments… add one
  • Drew Link

    As I have said, I was flat damned wrong about the invasion. Knowing what I know now about the corruption in the CIA, upper echelons of the military, FBI, and “deep state” in general I don’t trust these bastards as far as I can throw them. I don’t trust the media; I don’t trust the economic numbers we see. It has always been somewhat politicized, but the all out assault on Trump, who would expose it all, has laid bare why we cannot have bigger and more intrusive government. There is no check and balance anymore.

  • Grey Shambler Link

    Well stated. Very, very well stated.

  • bob sykes Link

    Dave, I don’t understand your comment about Iraqi freedom. Twenty years ago Saddam Hussein was Iraq’s brutal dictator, so it is self-evident that Iraq is freer today than before the invasion.

    Of course, the Iraqi democracy is heavily constrained by the US occupation forces.

    And I have to agree with Drew. If Trump is arrested tomorrow, the US will have passed into full Third World status. Our cities, big and small, are already Third World, and our DOJ, FBI, CIA, NSA, DOHS all are acting like Gestapo/NKVD. And the corruption in our governments at all level, including civil servants, and the courts from the Supremes to the lowest mayor’s court would make the Central African Republic ashamed.

    However, if the neocons get their wishes for wars with Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, et al., we will see a Great Reset.

  • Yes, Saddam was bad. However, Iraq under Saddam was largely secular. And it had some unity under an Iraqi identify. That isn’t the case any more. The greatest number of Iraqis are Shi’ites and many are Khomeinists.

    Additionally, you can’t separate the U. S. invasion from the rise of DAESH. Saddam successfully kept Sunni militants down. Try to tell the Yazidis they’re better off now than under Saddam.

    But that’s the key point. Tolerance of brutal dictators is occasionally the best alternative among a number of bad alternatives. Libya is emphatically not better off now than under Qaddaffi.

    Here’s an example of Iraqi freedom. The majority of Iraqi women wear hijabs now, a sharp difference from under Saddam. It’s “voluntary” meaning it’s not enforced by law but it is enforced by Islamist militias who will make life hard for girls who don’t wear hijabs and for their families. Here’s another example. The education of girls is weakening in Iraq.

  • steve Link

    Trump had 4 years to expose it all. Nothing happened. Poor Donald gets picked on and you guys cant stand it? After you guys were oh so nice to Clinton and Obama? LOL Remember, Republican presidents get special rules and they never have to actually testify to anything in person while in office and they should never be prosecuted for any crimes they commit, only Democrats.

    It wasn’t the CIA, military, FBI or those others deciding to invade Iraq, it was Bush and his advisors. They were the ones who actively pursued the war and sent people to lie to the public. They were the ones pushing Congress to ratify approval. (And yes, Congress including Dems did approve it.) The military doesnt get to make that decision. When asked how to conduct the war the military proposed a plan that accounted for difficulties after the initial win, but that called for a lot more people. So it was the Bush admin in the form of Rumsfeld that drastically cut the advised numbers and helped lead to the mess after the initial conflict.

    It was the Bush admin that gave cover, along with the GOP Congress to our acts of torture that helped make it OK for the Russians (and everyone else so inclined) to engage in their own torture programs. It was the Bush people who sent over all of the people who couldn’t speak the local language who accepted at face value everything told them by the people who lied to help get them there to begin with.

    It was GOP leadership that pushed for the war and then was largely responsible for its mismanagement. Quite telling that you guys cant even mention Bush.


  • Grey Shambler Link

    I do believe G W Bush led us into Iraq for personal reasons and that he is proficient in justifications that cannot be substantiated.
    Iraq is an amalgamation of fractious tribes, the rise of Saddam, or someone like him was probably the best they could hope for.
    Have we learned any lessons from this?
    If this were still a Democratic Republic, that might matter, but it’s not.
    That said, Trump is pro business, and strongly antiwar. He’s also the only candidate who stands a chance of unseating the pro-war incumbent.
    @Steve, Trump does not have the support of the Republican party.
    Ask Jeb.

  • Drew Link

    Nice partisan rant, steve. Part vapid. Part banal. But a nice rant.

  • PD Shaw Link

    Easy to characterize Iraq as freer today than it was 20 years ago:

    In 2002, Freedom House gave Iraq its lowest scores (on a scale of 1-7), 7 for political rights, 7 for civil liberties.

    In 2015 and every year after, Freedom House rated Iraq 5 for political rights, 6 for civil liberties.

  • That’s a very solid argument,PD.

  • steve Link

    Partisan is when you make unsubstantiated claims about groups you dont like. Pointing out that the guy who is in charge of our foreign policy, POTUS, should be the one actually held responsible for our foreign policy is just the truth. Being a Trump fan that is a foreign concept. Sorry for confusing you.


  • steve Link

    While we are on foreign policy nice open letter at link. Too many people take at face value the claims that the US evicted Yanuykovich(sp?). They also point out that Ukrainians and not ethnic Russians were the majority of every area in Ukraine except Crimea, but note that Russia expelled Crimeans and replaced them with Russians over a long period and as recently as 1944. That’s also how east Ukraine ended up with a significant Russian minority. Stalin first starved millions to death and then sent another million to the gulags. Those areas got repopulated, often with Russians.


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