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#1 Greatest Fiasco: The Invasion of Iraq, 2003. On the question of whether this was a discretionary initiative, there can be no longer any real debate. Iraq’s Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction, nor did he have any serious connection to Islamist fundamentalists such as those who had attacked the American homeland on September 11, 2001. In other words, he was not the enemy. And, when his rule was upended and his country destroyed, it was inevitable that jihadist Islam would exploit the resulting chaos.
And it isn’t simply Iraq that has slipped into chaos and posed opportunity for the real enemy, which is Islamist radicals bent on attacking the West whenever and wherever possible. It seems clear that the so-called Arab Spring emerged in part from inspiration derived from events in Iraq, which nurtured confidence among many elements of Islam that change was possible.
Unfortunately for many, the change that has unfolded hasn’t contributed to regional stability, let alone anything approaching the democracy envisioned by the architects of the Bush invasion. And so now we have ISIS on the march, established in significant expanses of territory in Syria and Iraq. Dealing with that problem—a problem of the real enemy—will now draw America further into the maw. The cost has been immense, and unfortunately it is just beginning.