But a couple of data points interested me more than the others:
Empowered Iran in Iraq and region. The Islamic Republic of Iran is the primary strategic beneficiary of the U.S.-led intervention in Iraq. The end of Saddam Hussein’s regime removed Iran’s most-hated enemy (with whom it fought a hugely destructive war in the 1980s) and removed the most significant check on Iran’s regional hegemonic aspirations. Many of Iraq’s key Iraqi Shia Islamist and Kurdish leaders enjoy close ties to Iran, facilitating considerable influence for Iran in the new Iraq.
Stifled democracy reform. A recent RAND study concluded that, rather than becoming a beacon of democracy, the Iraq war has hobbled the cause of political reform in the Middle East. The report stated that “Iraq’s instability has become a convenient scarecrow neighboring regimes can use to delay political reform by asserting that democratization inevitably leads to insecurity.”
In the absence of WMD, of course, creating US-friendly democracies in the Middle East became the backup rationale for the American invasion. Turns out there were no WMDs ... and that our invasion might've throttled whatever nascent democratic spirit existed in that region. The Iraq War, simply put, is never not going to be a disaster for us.