An Iraqi military helicopter flies over Shi’ite pilgrims in Baghdad. Reuters/Stringer

On the tenth anniversary of the April 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein’s secular, nationalist government, Paul Wolfowitz – a neoconservative and key architect of the American invasion of Iraq – wrote a lengthy apologia for the war. In it, he concluded: “It is remarkable that Iraq has done as well as it has thus far.” Besides Wolfowitz, various other members of the George W. Bush administration have similarly weighed in, insisting that the unprovoked, illegal war against Iraq was the right thing to do.

Many Iraqis would disagree.

Since that April anniversary, thousands of Iraqis have been slaughtered in sectarian and political violence. In May, more than 1,000 Iraqis were killed in a relentless wave of bombings, suicide attacks, assassinations, and other violence, according to the United Nations, and nearly 2,000 have been killed since April. No doubt, those totals understate the true scope of the killing.

Some of the violence is a spillover from the civil war in Syria, where a panoply of Islamist militias, some directly linked to Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), are waging a battle against the secular, authoritarian government of Bashar al-Assad. In Iraq, the AQI forces may or may not be allied with remnants of the old Iraqi order, including Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, the top Baathist official still active in the armed resistance to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government. Duri, who reportedly still is living underground in Iraq, has set up a group called the Naqshbandi Order, led by ex-Baathists. Both AQI and Duri’s forces draw strength from Iraq’s complex web of Sunni tribes, and – although most of the people killed by Sunni-ked violence in Iraq are Shiites or supporters of Maliki – many of the dead are Sunnis who are cooperating with Maliki or are neutral.


4 thoughts on “The Agony of Iraq—And Its Lesson for Syria

  1. It is unconscionable what the U.S. has done in the Middle East in the past decade. Obama’s pledge of military support to the rebels will guarantee thousands more civilians will suffer and die needlessly. How do these people sleep at night?

    Thanks for sharing and putting the information out there for us to analyze.


    • My pleasure. How do these people sleep at night? It’s just a matter of putting political pragmatism and self-interest above the larger ethical principles of society. For people in positions of power – whether they’re in politics, business, or any other institutional structure – it is quite easy to conflate moral correctness with a subjective sense of self-worth. In other words, their thoughts must be “right” simply because they were the ones who thought it.

      America’s founding fathers knew this. Most human beings are really bad at being objective. That’s why they designed a governmental system based on an inherent distrust of authority. Unfortunately, that system has been methodically dismantled over the last 3-4 decades by guess who? – the people in power.


  2. Reblogged this on digger666 and commented:
    The Syrian civil war is already a very murky quagmire, into which any intelligent state would hesitate to step. The principal beneficiaries/protagonists of the conflict appear to be the Gulf states, Saudi Arabia, Al Qaeda and Israel…strange bedfellows, indeed.


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