Over the course of its 8,000-year history, the area we now call Iraq has played host to at least a dozen major civilizations — some indigenous, some imposed from afar. Knowing so many empires have come and gone there, U.S. policymakers shouldn’t be surprised if the current state of Iraq proves to lack staying power. It was fashioned by European powers during World War One in an agreement designed to demarcate postwar spheres of influence, and in the process saddled with nonsensical borders that had little to do with the geographic distribution of key ethnic groups. As a result, its people have no strong sense of national identity. What they do have is a long tradition of autocracy and government-sponsored brutality, wrapped in a rapacious political culture that is currently ranked as one of the most corrupt in the world. So if Washington bases its strategy for the region on Iraq’s presumed survival, that could be a prescription for defeat. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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