The irony of Iraq is that it’s the one place where Mr. Bush decisively chose regime change, but he then executed it so poorly, with insufficient troops, that Iraq never stood a chance. If Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney had spent as much time plotting the toppling of Saddam Hussein as they did the toppling of Colin Powell, Iraq today would be Switzerland.
Switzerland, seriously? To be sure, I assume Friedman means this as some kind of deliberate hyperbole. But while I’m sure there are certain kinds of better management steps that would have either left Iraq less chaotic than it is today, or else left it equally chaotic at lower cost to the United States, there’s still a meaningful question here. Would thinking harder about the issues and the resources have given the United States an effective plan to create a peaceful, pluralistic democracy in Iraq or would they just have led to the conclusion that that was a deeply unrealistic goal? The latter, I think. It’s an important issue, since while the US doesn’t have the ground forces available to invade Syria today, we will have them someday,