The era of U.S.-approved, iron-fisted Arab dictators is over. Washington must get used to a Middle East in which public opinion matters to a much greater extent, anti-Western sentiment abounds and political Islam emerges as a major force.
Sunni vs. Shia. Kurd vs. Arab. Nationalist vs. Islamist. Iraq circa 2011 is looking an awful lot like Iraq circa 2004. The country is headed back to the anarchic depths from which it ever-so-briefly emerged.
It has long been said that there are wars of necessity and wars of choice. But enemies always adapt, especially in our world of terrorists, failing states and delinquent regimes. Every war is a war of choice.
Baghdad is once again on the brink of civil war. The old Iraqi politics of backroom deals, corruption and violence are alive and well. An early exit may look like a bright idea now, but Iraq will be lost to us forever.
Scholars of international relations have only recently begun to appreciate the power of religion. Their next step is to get religion right. No longer mysterious and magical, modernity has demystified the Higher Power.
Iraq has a long and tortured history. Home to the tyrant, the origins of despotism lie in the primordial ooze of the Mesopotamian swamp. Yet for a brief moment fifty years ago, the land of two rivers experienced democracy.