Magazine Article - The European

'Iran is the Main Beneficiary of the Iraq War'

| March 20, 2013

Conversations › Ten Years After the Iraq Invasion

The Iraq War did not only change Iraq, it also changed international relations. To mark the tenth anniversary of the intervention, Harvard professor Stephen Walt talked with Max Tholl about the repercussions the war had on American foreign policy and the future of humanitarian interventions.

The European: There has been much talk about the legacy of the Iraq War, especially about the negative consequences it entailed. What about the positive aspects? Can the Iraq war at least be considered partly successful?
Walt: I think the only possible success was the removal of Saddam Hussein and his regime. There is nothing admirable about Saddam or the government he led, and the world is undoubtedly better off that he's no longer in power. But he has not been replaced by a particularly benevolent regime. The negative consequences, it seems to me, far outweigh the benefits of removing one dictator.

The European: Has America's political behavior changed because of the Iraq experience?
Walt: Yes, I think when you combine it with our experience in Afghanistan, it has made the US much more wary of using military force. Particularly using large-scale conventional invasions to try and deal with foreign policy problems. I think the Obama administration's tendency to rely more heavily on Special Operations and on drones, conveys the sense, that trying to occupy and govern other countries, is simply not an effective way of advancing American Foreign Policy interests. In that sense, I think it had a sobering effect on America's behavior....

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For Academic Citation: Tholl, Max and Stephen Walt. “'Iran is the Main Beneficiary of the Iraq War'.” The European, March 20, 2013.


Stephen Walt