Dmitry Shlapentokh: Imperial Errors Cost U.S. the Middle East

Roundup: Historians' Take

Dmitry Shlapentokh, PhD, is associate professor of history, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Indiana University South Bend. He is author of East Against West: The First Encounter - The Life of Themistocles, 2005.

The United States' invasion of Iraq in 2003 was an important event in post-Cold War history that is well-placed in the context of a series of other "preventive" wars, such as against Serbia (1999), Afghanistan (2001), and, lately, Libya.

All of them were conducted under various excuses, but their geopolitical underpinning was clear. On one hand, the West, especially the US, is increasingly pressed by the economic rise of Asia - mostly China.

On the other hand, the West, the US in particular, tried to take advantage of a military superiority emerging after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The attack against Iraq was designed not only to demonstrate the US's superior military power and disregard for international law and European allies, but also to provide the US with a hold over the strategic resources of oil and gas in the Middle East. The designs failed. Still, the US might yet turn this defeat, if not into victory, at least into some of advantage....

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