Our nation needs these capabilities, not because it is contemplating more such military operations but because these skills are necessary to help prevent failing states (such as Somalia and Yemen) and post-revolutionary states (such as Tunisia, Egypt and Libya) from descending into chaos. Conflict avoidance is vastly cheaper in lives and treasure than either military intervention or a society being torn apart, as Syria is today.
5. Despite all the problems, by 2008-09 Iraq could govern, defend and sustain itself, and it was an ally in the war against terrorism. Sporadic violence continued but was not a strategic threat to the state nor beyond the capability of Iraqi security forces. Iraq had a democratic government in which Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds worked together for a common future. The United States and its coalition allies did not go to war to impose a democracy on the Iraqi people. But having toppled Hussein, President Bush decided that we owed Iraqis the chance to build a democracy with our help. And they took it. While the Iraqi leadership appeared to be a fractious group lurching from crisis to crisis, the new government held together and began to work. This was no small feat in a region where all too frequently Sunnis oppress Shiites, Shiites oppress Sunnis and both beat up on the Kurds.