On March 10, Foreign Policy published its biweekly “It’s Debatable” column featuring Scowcroft Center acting director Matthew Kroenig and Emma Ashford assessing the latest news in international affairs.
In their latest column, they debate topics surrounding Russia, the role of the Chinese yuan in the international economic system, and the 20th anniversary of the Iraq war. Kroenig and Ashford assert that the March 21 meeting between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping was an opportunity for Putin, now an international pariah following his ICC indictment, to prove he’s still accepted by the leader of the world’s second most powerful country. They discuss the shifting importance of the Chinese yuan in the world’s economic system, before delving into dueling perspectives on the Iraq war.
I do think the simple dismissal of the war as a big, dumb mistake, however, risks oversimplifying the lessons we learn from the episode. There were no good options for dealing with Iraq in March 2003. We do not know what the world would have looked like if Saddam had remained in power, but we know it would have been dangerous.
I can’t see how anyone could argue the Iraq war was anything other than a big, dumb mistake… Scholars’ research shows that regime change only works in rare cases, under certain circumstances… I have a hard time seeing any scenario in which the US invasion of Iraq would have resulted in a more peaceful and well-governed Middle East.