3Center for American Progress | Update: The Iraq War Ledger
Te oregoing coss could conceivably be jusied i he Iraq inervenion had improvedhe Unied Saes’ sraegic posiion in he Middle Eas. Bu his is clearly no he case. TeIraq war has srenghened ani-U.S. elemens and made he posiion o he Unied Saesand is allies more precarious.
Empowered Iran in Iraq and region.
Te Islamic epublic o Iran is he primary srae-gic beneciary o he U.S.-led inervenion in Iraq. Te end o Saddam Hussein’s regimeremoved Iran’s mos-haed enemy (wih whom i ough a hugely desrucive war in he1980s) and removed he mos signican check on Iran’s regional hegemonic aspiraions.Many o Iraq’s key Iraqi Shia Islamis and Kurdish leaders enjoy close ies o Iran, acilia-ing considerable infuence or Iran in he new Iraq.
Created terrorist training ground
According o he U.K. Maplecro research group’smos recen index, Iraq is he hird-mos vulnerable counry in he world o errorism.
Te years o U.S. occupaion in Iraq creaed no only a rallying call or violen Islamicexremiss bu also an environmen or hem o develop, es, and perec various acicsand echniques. Tese acics and echniques are now shared, boh in person and via heInerne, wih exremiss all over he region and he world, including hose ghing U.S.roops in Aghanisan.
Loss of international standing.
While abuses are perhaps ineviable in any miliary occu-paion, he images and sories broadcas rom Iraq ino he region and around he worldhave done lasing damage o he Unied Saes’ repuaion as a supporer o inernaionalorder and human righs. Gen. David Peraeus has said ha he damage done o he UniedSaes’ image by Abu Ghraib is permanen, calling i a “nonbiodegradable”
Diverted resources and attention from Afghanistan.
aher han say and nish he jobin Aghanisan as promised, he Bush adminisraion urned is ocus o Iraq beginningin 2002, in preparaion or he 2003 invasion. Special Forces specializing in regional lan-guages were divered rom Aghanisan o Iraq, and Predaor drones were sen o supporhe war in Iraq insead o he hun or Al Qaeda in Aghanisan and Pakisan.
Stifled democracy reform.
While he Arab Awakening o 2011 is a poenially posiivedevelopmen, here’s no evidence ha he Iraq war conribued o his in any posiive way. A 2010 RND sudy concluded ha, raher han becoming a beacon o democracy, heIraq war hobbled he cause o poliical reorm in he Middle Eas. Te repor saed ha“Iraq’s insabiliy has become a convenien scarecrow neighboring regimes can use o delay poliical reorm by assering ha democraizaion ineviably leads o insecuriy.” aherhan supporing democraic orces in neighboring Syria, Iraqi Prime Miniser Nouri al-Maliki has repeaedly voiced suppor or Syrian dicaor Bashar al-Assad.