The decision of the Obama administration to intervene militarily in Iraq in defence of Yazidi refugees and what is, for all intents and purposes, the new independent Kurdish state against Islamic State forces is the correct one. But it also demonstrates the extent to which Iraq has been left as an unviable state in the wake of the attack on Saddam Hussein. The most powerful symbol of this was when US airstrikes destroyed the Humvees of Islamic State forces. These US-supplied vehicles were captured from fleeing Iraqi army forces in June.
All of this is the product of the vast historical tragedy of the Iraq War. It is a war that has so far cost nearly US$2 trillion and, according to American estimates, will eventually cost up to US$4 trillion by the time the last veteran of the conflict dies and the ongoing medical bill associated with treating veterans is finalised. That cost does not include the over 5000 allied lives lost in Iraq, nor the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives.
The only demonstrable result of the Iraq War is that the West was made less safe. That is the conclusion of British and American intelligence agencies and the Australian Federal Police: that the attack on Iraq made Western countries less safe from terrorism. Now governments are insisting once again that we are threatened by terrorism from Iraq, and that this threat justifies further draconian changes to our anti-terror laws.
The price we are paying for the folly of men like George W. Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard is now greater than ever.