May was Iraq’s deadliest month in nearly five years, with more than 1,000 dead — both civilians and security personnel — in a rash of bombings, shootings, and other violence. As we read each day of new horrors in Iraq, it becomes more obvious that the U.S. invasion delivered none of the promised peace or stability that proponents of the attack promised.
Millions live in constant fear, refugees do not return home, and the economy is destroyed. The Christian community, some 1.2 million persons before 2003, has been nearly wiped off the Iraqi map. Other minorities have likewise disappeared. Making matters worse, U.S. support for the Syrian rebels next door has drawn the Shi’ite-led Iraqi government into the spreading regional unrest and breathed new life into extremist elements.
The invasion of Iraq opened the door to al-Qaeda in Iraq, which did not exist beforehand, while simultaneously strengthening the hand of Iran in the region. Were the “experts” who planned for and advocated the U.S. attack really this incompetent?
Ryan Crocker, who was U.S. ambassador to Iraq from 2007 to 2009, still speaks of the Iraqi “surge” as a great reconciliation between Sunni and Shi’ite in Iraq. He wrote recently that “[t]hough the United States has withdrawn its troops from Iraq, it retains significant leverage there. Iraqi forces were equipped and trained by Americans, and the country’s leaders need and expect our help.” He seems alarmingly out of touch with reality.
It is clear now that the “surge” and the “Iraqi Awakening” were just myths promoted by those desperate to put a positive spin on the U.S. invasion, which the late Gen. William Odom once called “the greatest strategic disaster in American history.” Aircraft were loaded with $100 bills to pay each side to temporarily stop killing U.S. troops and each other, but the payoff provided a mere temporary break. Shouldn’t the measure of success of a particular policy be whether it actually produces sustained positive results?
Now we see radical fighters who once shot at U.S. troops in Iraq have spilled into Syria, where they ironically find their cause supported by the U.S. government! Some of these fighters are even greeted by visiting U.S. senators.
The U.S. intervention in Iraq has created ever more problems. That is clear. The foreign policy “experts” who urged the U.S. attack on Iraq now claim that the disaster they created can only be solved with more interventionism! Imagine a medical doctor noting that a particular medication is killing his patient, but to combat the side effect he orders an increase in dosage of the same medicine. Like this doctor, the U.S. foreign policy establishment is guilty of malpractice. And, I might add, this is just what the Fed does with monetary policy.
From Iraq to Libya to Mali to Syria to Afghanistan, U.S. interventions have an unbroken record of making matters far worse. Yet regardless of the disasters produced, all the interventionists offer is a more aggressive U.S. foreign policy.
We must learn the appropriate lessons from the disaster of Iraq. We cannot continue to invade countries, install puppet governments, build new nations, create centrally planned economies, engage in social engineering, and force democracy at the barrel of a gun. The rest of the world is tired of U.S. interventionism, and the U.S. taxpayer is tired of footing the bill for U.S. interventionism. It is up to all of us to make it very clear to the foreign policy establishment and the powers that be that we have had enough and will no longer tolerate empire-building. We should be more confident in ourselves and stop acting like an insecure bully.