As the American experiment in nation building winds down in Iraq, a perception is slowly being created that combat operations in Iraq are largely over and that the United States is on its way from largely disengaging from Iraq. As the lull in violence in Iraq continues an increasing number of American leaders and opinion makers from both sides of the political debate on Iraq are declaring that the country is stabilizing and becoming a democratic state. For example US President Barack Obama has said:
[E]very mission that's been assigned, from getting rid of Saddam to reducing violence to stabilizing the country to facilitating elections, you have given Iraq the opportunity to stand on its own as a democratic country. That is an extraordinary achievement.1
Some media pundits have even declared Iraq a “victory” and speculate that US military operations in the country are largely over2. Each side of the political debate has their own reasons for declaring stabilization and victory in Iraq. Despite the political calculations behind these views, should these claims of stabilization and “victory” in Iraq be heeded?
The best way to determine if Iraq is on a glide path to becoming a US allied democratic state or the biggest foreign policy blunder in US history is by comparing the country to other historical nation building efforts the United States has conducted in recent history. Often times the war in Iraq is compared to America‟s failed effort in nation building in Vietnam. However, many forget that America‟s efforts in nation building amidst an ambiguous and unpopular war actually pre-dates the Vietnam Conflict. America‟s first nation