Just over 10 years ago this week, we wrote on this page that the Bush administration’s push toward an invasion of Iraq might do more to harm the cause of world peace than advance it. History has borne out the fears of many (if far too few in national positions of authority or in control of major media) that the war was unjustified, unwise, and a waste of untold lives. And now, as the Obama White House continues its infatuation with unmanned drones, killing not just terrorists but United States citizens and unarmed noncombatants, it is worth remembering that violence begets more violence.
In the Feb. 13, 2003, issue of this newspaper we wrote: “If the objective is to assert power in the oil-rich region and remake the Arab world in our image, then invasion may be necessary. Given that the link between Iraq and Al Qaeda presented by [Colin] Powell was speculative, terrorism cannot be a justification for putting our troops at risk, increasing the threat to other Mideast countries, and killing Iraqi civilians . . . it now seems nearly impossible that war, with its attendant carnage and regional destabilization, will be avoided.”
We, and those who shared this view, were right in the end. The Iraq war has been decried as the worst foreign policy decision in U.S. history. One thing we were wrong about, however, was a hope that the war might be over quickly. Our last major troop deployments in Iraq ended in late 2011, but the havoc caused continues on. Whether we as a nation learned anything at all remains impossible to gauge.