What Have We Learned from Iraq?

Pundits reflect on invasion's 10th anniversary
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2013 1:15 PM CDT
What Have We Learned from Iraq?
This March 12, 2013 photo shows Abu Nawas Street in Baghdad,at the site of a photograph of Iraqi orphan Fady al-Sadik waking on the street, taken by photographer Maya Alleruzzo in April, 2003.   (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

It's the 10th anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq, and news sources are taking a moment to reflect on what we have—or haven't—learned. What pundits are saying:

  • What if we'd been told the costs from the start? "It will take eight years, cost the lives of 4,488 US troops," and "the civil war we unleash will kill more than 100,000 Iraqis. We will spend $3 trillion, our war in Afghanistan will be orphaned, and the big winner will be Iran. But Iraq will be a better place." The "toll outweighs the results," says USA Today.

  • In the Los Angeles Times, Doyle McManus writes that the US suffered from "hubris" and intelligence that was both flawed and manipulated. "There's nothing like a decade of grinding war to teach that invasions aren't easy and counterinsurgency isn't short," he says. Our arrogance may have lessened, but intelligence is always fallible—and it remains bound together with politics.
  • But given what we knew at the time, "I feel no shame in being part of the 75% of Americans who believed at the beginning that this was a war worth waging," nor part of the fewer who continued to support it, writes Max Boot in Commentary. Once we were in, we had to stay—and things could have turned out better had President Obama kept troops in the country beyond 2011.
  • What's changed in the US? wonders David Sirota at Salon. "America still has a massive, fiscally unsustainable defense budget"; Congress and think tanks remain full of war supporters who won't admit their mistakes; and plenty of less-than-critical press people remain. The trouble is, our political system today is "almost completely impervious to any kind of consequences for bad decisions." Paul Krugman agrees: We haven't learned much.
(Read more Iraq war stories.)

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