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Iraq in Retrospect

Requiem for a Nightmare

This article is part of the Foreign Affairs Iraq Retrospective.

Ten years ago this week, the United States and a few of its allies invaded Iraq, writing the final chapter in Washington’s checkered decades-long relationship with Saddam Hussein. Thanks to problems of both conception and execution, the Iraq war ended up becoming the most egregious failure in half a century of American foreign policy, costing a vast amount of blood and treasure for all concerned and tarnishing the United States’ reputation for international leadership, honesty, morality, and even basic competence.

A swift and successful invasion dissolved into chaos once Baghdad fell: liberation turned into occupation; local uncertainty turned into insurgency and then civil war. Four long years after the toppling of Saddam’s statue in Firdos Square, a new and better-resourced American strategy managed to build on some positive local trends and stabilize the situation, so that by the

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