Reckoning With the Iraq War Would Strengthen the U.S. Hand on Russia

Reckoning With the Iraq War Would Strengthen the U.S. Hand on Russia
U.S. Army soldiers search one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces damaged after a bombing, in Baghdad, April 7, 2003 (AP photo by John Moore).

Ever since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine last week, comparisons to the United States’ 2003 invasion of Iraq have inevitably and understandably emerged. After all, at transformative moments in world history like the one we’re currently witnessing, analysts naturally draw historical analogies to make sense of contemporary events, mining the past in search of patterns and causal connections that bear some resemblance to what is unfolding today.

And while no two situations are ever exactly alike, the comparison to Iraq in 2003 is particularly important, since it has considerable bearing on whether and how the United States can make a moral and political case against Russia’s current war of aggression.

Even more importantly, a clear and honest reckoning with the U.S. invasion of Iraq and its broader consequences for the international rules-based order could help inform the rejuvenation of international alliances and the rule of law that appears to have emerged in response to today’s conflagration, which poses arguably the greatest danger to global stability the world has faced since the end of the Cold War.

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