Over at the Diplomat a take a stab at thinking about how memory of the Iraq War will matter:
The tenth anniversary of the launch of the Iraq War has helped spark a debate over how the war will be interpreted by history. Was the invasion of Iraq the catastrophic outcome of intelligence errors made in context of an overly-enthusiastic push for war? Was it the result of the deft play of a group of ideologically committed policymakers and foreign policy thinkers (known colloquially as “neocons”)? Was it part and parcel of a long term U.S. policy of aggressive military response to minimal provocation? Or was the conflict, in fact, motivated by legitimate concerns of security and justice? Finally, irrespective of the reasons for going to war, did the United States “win?”
Disagreement over these questions will undoubtedly persist, even as ongoing events in Iraq and the Middle East provide more grist for debate. Majorities in the United States have long believed that the war was a mistake, but hawks continue to argue the contrary case. Deep skepticism about the wisdom of Iraq has surely characterized much of the U.S. policy response to Libya, Mali, and Syria; it seems that America will participate either as a background facilitator, or not at all. To some degree, the existence of a bitter debate is enough to scare policymakers away from further foreign entanglements.
See Michael Cohen for some additional thoughts. I’ll add briefly that I wish the view that the Iraq War was a mistake was held by more than 58% of the American population. I suspect that some of that is tribalism; people who won’t publicly say that the war was a bad idea, but who would be deeply reluctant to engage in another such adventure.