On this issue, lots of stuff exists to blame all sides. Iraq--Or Whatever You Want To Call It. By Major B Iraq, AKA Mesopotamia, is a 6000 year old battlefield. Other than the Ottoman Empire, which held sway there from 1281-1918, no conqueror has held it for long, and they have all been there, from Sargon I, up through Bush II, including such luminaries as Nebuchadnezzar, Darius the Mede, Alexander the Great, the Parthians, The Romans, The Parthians again, etc. etc. The Turks kept order there by a very simple expediency. If there were a riot between Sunni and Shia, or too many murders, the Turkish Army would march to that city and kill about everyone there. It worked pretty good at discouraging bad behavior. Then came WW1, and the moribund but still flailing around Turks allowed themselves to be pushed into WW1, ignored and insulted by the British, and wooed by the Germans. At the end of the war, the victorious and vengeful West decided to break up the Ottoman domain and create nation states where none had been for millennia. Not onlyl that, they were working with very backward people, living in the 1300s. The British took over Transjordan (Jordan plus Palestine), Egypt, the gulf emirates, supported the Sauds against all others, and then looked at Mesopotamia. T.E. Lawrence was the more-myth-than-fact hero made immortal by Peter O'Toole in the movie Lawrence of Arabia in the 1960s. He, [he was a cartographer before he became a legend] with some help from an out-of-date professor or two, drew the lines that created Iraq, shutting off the huge Kurdish nation from independence, and creating a nation that could not exist for long without violent repression from its government. A small number of Syrian Christians, a majority of Shia, a minority of Sunni, and that bothersome bunch of Kurds constituted this mess. Why was this not-really-a-nation founded? Look at a map. Imagine that South West Asia is a bottle, and Iraq is the cap on the bottle--created to counterbalance the natural potential power of Iran, given their size and potential strength. The Brits trained an indigenous army, borrowed a Hashemi prince (Jordan's sort of royal clan) and made him king, then shuffled off to England and left it, confident they had achieved their purpose. Time would fail me to note the influence of the Nazi party in the 1930s and 1940s (Saddam Hussein's uncle who raised was a Nazi), which morphed into the Ba'ath Party after Nazi became a dirty word. IT would take too long and too much detail to trace the Stalin-like progression of Saddam, rising from hired street muscle for the Ba'ath party, to head of the security services, then dictator of Iraq. Then we got into this thing. Oh, the big problem KenH, and Lady Eagle, is that we never elect a historian as President. Fomenting the war between Iraq and Iran after we lost our pet dictator, the Shah was NOT a brilliant move. Then Saddam made peace with his old neighbor, and he thought he could snatch Kuwait and Saudi Arabia (his ultimate strategic goal) and get away with it, becoming the big dog in the Middle East. He neglected to realize that by that time, Kuwait had become friendly with us to the max (behind the scenes). I served and attended training with Kuwaiti officers, a fine bunch, but 'way outnumbered. Now we are at my last war. Bush said, This Will Not Stand (because we could not have stood it), and off we went. I was in the HQ on the "upper east coast", then the Maintenance Supervisor (Squadron exec) responsible for all of the East Bound flow of stuff out of the US. A group of 35 of my troops, led by a Lieutenant and an old sarge, were the first US military personnel there at Dharan, arriving 4 hours ahead of the 82 Airborne, who were going to land in our planes, offload, refuel, and high tail. (they issued my mechanics weapons, but I had the LT lock them up in Saudi--they would have done better with wrenches anyway). Anyway, the race was on. Had Saddam just kept on driving South, the brigade or two of lightly-armored paratroopers, and the Saudi army would have both been toast. To our advantage, he was a strategic and tactical idiot, and unlike his hero Stalin, he did not have a Zhukov or a Rossokovsky (who was called back from imprisonment, given a new set of teeth (stainless steel ones) to replace the ones that the Checkists had broken out with a hammer.) In the war (which really lasted from 1990 until today), we made two mistakes, and even with several chances to get it right, we blew it. And the word IS "we,' for in eight years under Clinton, he kept up a daily bombing regimen, a war on the back burner. Mistake #1 (aka Gulf 1). Had we kept ground action up for another 24 hours, the Republican Guard would have been totally annihilated, Saddam would have been toppled, and we could have declared victory and gone home. Nope, we let the old boy live, and stood by while he wiped up his opposition. Why? Because we had promised the Turks and the Saudis, both nervous about Iran, that we would not destroy Iraq. We miscalculated. Mistake #2 (aka the Iraq War)--Getting away from all of the WMD stuff (everyone's intelligence service figured they had them), after we kicked in the door and took care of the Hussein family, instead of disbanding the Iraqi Army, we should have found a somewhat less brutal general, put him in charge, apologized for the mess, let the UN come in and rebuild it, and got out of Dodge. Had we done that, we would be considered geniuses and the big dogs, and we could have re-deployed to Afghanistan. But the biggest mistake of all, often repeated by Americans throughout our history, it this: we keep trying to install American Democracy in places where it won't grow. There will never be a true, fully-functioning democracy in the Muslim world (and I include Turkey in this, as close as they sometimes get) unless there is a Muslim reaction separating religion and rule. With the Islamic concept of the Umma, I don't think that is likely.