“This essay traces the course of Iraq’s fortunes from the American invasion in 2003 through the civil war of 2005-2008 and the endangered effort at reconstruction that followed. Only by seeing the full course of Iraq’s narrative arc during this period is it possible to understand both Iraq’s present, and its likely future—as well as what would probably be needed to produce a better outcome than those that currently seem most plausible. It is not a hopeful story, but it is an important one. It is the critical piece to understanding the possibilities for Iraq as we fret over its renewed downward course. And it is a warning about what would likely be required to address the analogous Syrian civil war raging next door, as well as the dangers of allowing that war to rage unchecked.”
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