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Iraq: What Went Wrong

No one could believe at this point that bringing about such a democratic transformation would be easy, quick, or cheap. It is true that if a primary but unspoken purpose of the military campaign was to demonstrate the skills and courage of the American armed forces, then it was surely a success. Thirty years of dedicated effort have built a US military without peer in its ability to defeat enemy forces on the battlefield. But power creates its own adversaries, and those who are determined to contest American strength will seek methods that minimize the military advantages we have accumulated. Much greater work remains to be done if the United States is to achieve success in promoting our values, our security, and our prosperity. All else being equal, the region and the Iraqi people are better off with Saddam gone. But the US actions against old adversaries like Saddam have costs and consequences that may still leave us far short of our goal of winning the new war on terror. Indeed, the effects of the war may actually impair our efforts to achieve that larger goal.


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