- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center Newsletter

Views on Iraq: 10 Years Later

Summer 2013

In March 2003 the United States invaded Iraq. In March 2013, on the 10-year anniversary of the war’s commencement, a number of Belfer Center faculty and affiliates reflected on the war and its legacy. Below is a sampling of those viewpoints.


David Ignatius, Belfer Center Senior Fellow

“Invading Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein a decade ago was one of the biggest strategic errors in modern American history. We’ll never know whether the story might have been different if better planning had been done. . . . But the abiding truth is that America shouldn’t have rolled the dice this way on a war of choice.” (“The Painful Lessons of Iraq,” Washington Post. March 20, 2013)

Stephen Walt, Robert & Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs

“The Iraq experience made the U.S. and its allies even more reluctant to go into places like Syria for precisely those reasons. We understand it’s risky, but also, we’re no longer confident that we can produce a better outcome by intervening.” (“Iran is the Main Beneficiary of the Iraq War,” The European. March 3, 2013)

Derwin Pereira, International Council member

“Another American achievement was to ensure Iraq’s territorial integrity . . . It remains one country today because the democratic process has been able to defang all but the most extreme expressions of communal hostility.” (Still Trying to Win the Peace in Iraq,” Straits Times. March 19, 2013)

Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy

“Perhaps the greatest victory that regime change in Iraq has secured, from an international point of view, is that the country has not become an epicenter of terrorism, as many feared it would.” (“A War’s Misleading Anniversary,” Boston Globe. March 18, 2013)

Meghan O’Sullivan, Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs

“It is plausible that Iraq, for all the pain and trouble it caused, will eventually come to be seen as a good investment. It is also equally and, at this point, more conceivable, that continued strife and sectarianism in Iraq will add to the turbulence of the region.” (“Was the Iraq War Worth It’s Costs to the U.S.?” Bloomberg. March 19, 2013)

Joseph S. Nye, Distinguished Service Professor

“Even if fortuitous events lead to a better Middle East in another 10 years, future historians will criticize the way Bush made his decisions and distributed the risks and costs of his actions. It is one thing to guide people up a mountain; it is another to lead them to the edge of a cliff.” (“History Will Judge Bush on the Iraq War,” Project Syndicate/China Daily. March 13, 2013)

Rami Khouri, Senior Fellow, Middle East Initiative

“The massive destructive consequences of the American-initiated and -led Iraq war and occupation will reverberate around the region for many more years, yet very few voices are raised in the United States about whether anyone should be held accountable for all this.” (“Dizzying and Exhilarating U.S. Middle East Policies,” Agence Global. March 22, 2013)

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Views on Iraq: 10 Years Later.” Belfer Center Newsletter (Summer 2013).