THE WORLD President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair imagined when they foolishly decided to shoot for regime change and to “make the world more peaceful” was never going to end well. This fantasy revolved around U.S. troops maintaining a presence in Iraq until the end of time. The proof is now playing out on the ground.
In Fallujah, where Marines fought the bloodiest battle of the Iraq war in 2004, the militants appeared to have the upper hand, underscoring the extent to which the Iraqi security forces have struggled to sustain the gains made by U.S. troops before they withdrew in December 2011.
The upheaval also affirmed the soaring capabilities of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the rebranded version of the al-Qaeda in Iraq organization that was formed a decade ago to confront U.S. troops and expanded into Syria last year while escalating its activities in Iraq. Roughly a third of the 4,486 U.S. troops killed in Iraq died in Anbar trying to defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq, nearly 100 of them in the November 2004 battle for control of Fallujah, the site of America’s bloodiest confrontation since the Vietnam War.
Neoconservatives, led by Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, will say we should never have left Iraq. These people never learn the lessons of history.
It’s not just Iraq that’s feeling the whip of President Bush’s failed foreign policy adventure in Iraq. Bush’s action in Iraq led us away from Afghanistan and let that country spiral out of control.
These problems were dumped in President Obama’s lap when he arrived in Washington.
The result has been the longest war in U.S. history that will have its own final chapter that will be as ugly as what’s playing out in Iraq right now, with bipartisan blame to go around for both calamities.