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May/June 2013

Ten years ago, in the long shadow of 9/11 and with significant bipartisan support in the US Congress, President Bush launched Operation Iraqi Freedom, the US-led invasion of Iraq, to destroy WMD plants and stockpiles, oust a sadistic and bloody dictator, offer the Iraqi people a chance for a democratic destiny, and along the way give their oppressed Middle Eastern neighbors an enticing glimpse of a democratic future. ... Read More

Symposium - Lessons Learned: The Iraq Invasion

Americans are unlikely to learn anything from the Iraq War for one simple reason. Rather than subjecting the war to the critical scrutiny it deserves, they are keen to forget it.
The lessons of the Iraq War now pass as conventional wisdom, but the intervention-averse policies of the Obama administration in Syria suggest the wrong lessons have been learned.
Practitioners in the intelligence community are drawing their own lessons from Iraq—about intel as evidence, communicating with policymakers, and false distinctions between strategy and tactics.
The US intervention in Iraq, as it was carried out, was a mistake. But that is only part of the lesson, and it would be erroneous to conclude that the case of Iraq makes all intervention mistaken.
One of the central lessons of the Iraq War is that regime change necessitates nation building, a process that is hardly automatic no matter how quickly a despot may be deposed.
The US failed to collaborate with opposition forces inside Iraq before the invasion and thus blundered into an occupation of a country of which we knew little.
Americans seem to have learned very little from the Iraq invasion—not least neoconservatives, who have yet to seriously reconsider their support for military intervention abroad.
While Iraqis may have been unprepared to manage affairs of state after Hussein’s removal, it would have been preferable for Iraqis to make governing mistakes, rather than American occupiers.

India: Almost a Miracle

The blemish of human trafficking and bonded and child labor has marred India’s economic miracle. The US and multinational companies have a strong interest in being part of the solution.

Scotland’s Independence Bid

After generations of struggle, Scottish separatists will learn if the majority of their compatriots also want independence from Great Britain in next year’s referendum. It’s a complicated choice.

Syria, Iran, and Kurdish Independence

The shifting fortunes of Middle Eastern politics have delivered Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan and the country’s Kurds to the brink of a lasting settlement.

Afghanistan’s Threatened Treasures

The protection of Afghanistan’s cultural heritage is vital to rehabilitating the nation’s resilience and confidence. But a government deal with a Chinese firm is putting at least one site at risk.

Historical Fiction: China’s South China Sea Claims

History, if anything, undermines China’s claims to islands and reefs in the South China Sea—for the simple reason that past empires and kingdoms never exercised sovereignty.

The Great War, Reconsidered

Nearly a century after World War I began, it’s easier to see the ways it has been misinterpreted over the years. It’s a healthy reminder that few historical judgments are ever ironclad.

Behind the Curtain: Stalin’s Plan Almost Worked

In “Iron Curtain,” Anne Applebaum shows how Stalin’s cold-blooded plan to subordinate Central and Eastern Europe was implemented through treachery, blackmail, and murder.