Reidar Visser has an intriguing blog post today, titled, “To Hell with Iraq: Ten Years of Western Ignorance, Incompetence, and Bureaucratic Madness”. In the post, this experienced analyst of Iraq’s internal politics (and the author of my company’s 2010 publication A Responsible End? The United States and the Iraqi Transition, 2005-2010) makes this important argument:
The suggestion that the Iraq War served as inspiration for the Arab Spring comes across as ahistorical in the extreme. By 2006, the Arab world had largely concluded the war in Iraq was a disaster. If anything, by the end of 2010, with sectarian fronts hardening in Iraq again, this impression had only grown stronger. In fact, a cogent argument in the opposite direction can plausibly be made: If it hadn’t been for the increased sectarian polarization in Iraq under the Obama administration, the Arab Spring – a natural result of stale authoritarian regimes crumbling under their own weight – might well have taken on a less sectarian direction, with fewer opportunities for regional states like Iran and Qatar to fish in sectarian waters.
In his blog post, Visser reflects with his usual wisdom on the extremely tragic situation that Iraqis have lived through over recent years– and that they continue to live through today, ten years after Pres. George W. Bush’s invasion of their country. He also writes in the post about the sad toll that the past few years have taken on him personally.
In what Visser writes about Iraq it is probably appropriate– since Pres. Barack Obama is still in office– that he places particular emphasis on the serious mistakes that he sees Obama as having made in Iraq policy since he came into office.