The Arab Spring was going to happen with or without Saddam Hussein, but it would not have happened had it not been for the attacks of September 11. In fact, in many ways the Iraq War has prevented more from being done to aid the uprisings, hindering global resolve in attending to the killing fields of the full-blown civil war in Syria.
It is the ghost of Iraq that prevents the U.S. from leading attempts to topple the brutal Assad regime in Damascus. Regime change has consequences, as we learned in Iraq. There will be no new commitments to “nation build” again, or re-train police and security forces in a far off Arab land.
The sectarianism, tribalism, Jihadism, border skirmishes and threat of chemical weapons use in Syria reminds U.S. policymakers of the American and Arab blood and treasure sacrificed in Iraq. And to what avail?
The ongoing loss of life in Syria is a direct result of U.S. foreign policy blunders in Iraq. Syrians are the victims of America’s Iraq adventure. So as we ponder the last decade and current Arab uprisings, let us not gloat about the “success” of Iraq. Iraq is not a success. It is now an ally of Iran, home to a prime minister who persecutes his own political opposition, and unashamedly supports the Assad regime in Syria. Egyptians, Yemenis, Libyans, and Tunisians were not inspired by America in Iraq.