Sad legacy of Iraq War

Updated: 2013-03-20 07:17

(China Daily)

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Although the Iraq War officially ended in December 2011, it continues to have repercussions in Iraq and for the world at large 10 years after the United States and some of its allies invaded the country purportedly to stop Saddam Hussein from using the weapons of mass destruction he supposedly had his hands on and save Iraqis from his regime. Serious reflection is needed so that the lessons of the war can be learned.

On Tuesday, on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the start of the invasion, at least 22 people were killed by car bombs and roadside blasts in Shi'ite districts across Baghdad, casualties of the rising sectarian tensions in the country this year. Such tragedies happen on an almost daily basis in Iraq, and they show that despite the deaths of at least 120,000 civilians the specter of the war continues to hang over the country. Mired in sectarian rifts, social unrest and political crisis, the country is struggling to weave the fabric of the nation together.

The prospects for the country look bleak, given the differences between the major political forces and worsening security situation, and there is no guarantee that the country will not again become a flashpoint in the Middle East.

While the rest of the world should guard against such a scenario, the US needs to do some serious soul-searching. It owes Iraqis a solid explanation as to why it has yet to deliver on its promises on self-governance, peace and stability in their country, if not the untrue grounds to start the war.

Given the profound changes the Iraq War has brought to the world's political and security landscape, the world should be fully aware of the severe consequences of resorting to unilateralism to solve the differences between countries. Washington arguably set a bad precedent 10 years ago.

Washington should know the divide between the West and the Muslim world has actually widened in the wake of its "dumb war". Over the years, despite the money and military might it poured into the war, the equilibrium in the Middle East has not shifted to its advantage.

Times have changed, and a correct understanding of the trends today would help the US avoid repeating the mistakes in Iraq again.

(China Daily 03/20/2013 page8)