Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

The Outcome in Iraq

Secretary of State Colin Powell cautioned President George W. Bush against invading Iraq on the basis of the Pottery Barn rule: "You break it, you own it." But things worked out differently: Iraq was broken, but it's never been owned by Washington. On the contrary, seven years and counting of a war that economists have concluded will cost America more than $3 trillion has produced an unstable Iraq in which Iran wields more political influence than the U.S. does. Violence continues, albeit at levels far lower than the worst days of 2006. But as the U.S. prepares to honor its obligation, under a treaty reached by President Bush and the Iraqi government two years ago, to withdraw all its forces by the end of 2011, Iraq's destiny remains unclear. The American media's appetite for Iraq stories has declined sharply, keeping with the public's diminishing interest in a story with no satisfactory ending. It hasn't helped that cash-strapped media outlets can no longer afford the cost of covering Iraq as they did seven years ago. But for Iraqis, owning and repairing their broken country is an ongoing struggle.