Why the Invasion of Iraq Failed

A look back at the 15th anniversary of the Iraq invasion
U.S. Marine Maj. Bull Gurfein pulls down a poster of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on March 21, 2003, in Safwan, Iraq.

March 19 this year was the 15th anniversary of the United States-led invasion of Iraq. On that day in 2003, President George W. Bush announced the invasion in a televised address to the American people. He said that the goals of the campaign were “to disarm Iraq, to free its people, and to defend the world from grave danger.”

Can we honestly say that the invasion of Iraq was a success? Look at the condition of that nation today. Instead of a democratic, free Iraq, we see a state that is an Iranian territory in all but name.

In 2003, President Bush said that “helping Iraqis achieve a united, stable and free country” would require America’s “sustained commitment.” In order to achieve America’s goals in Iraq, we needed to see it through to the end, he said. “We have no ambition in Iraq, except to remove a threat and restore control of that country to its own people.” He said that success would require “decisive force” and that America would “accept no outcome but victory.”

So what did America do? U.S.-led coalition forces invaded Iraq on March 19 and toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime in just three weeks. After an extensive search, Saddam was found hiding in a hole near his hometown in December 2003. He was later executed. Then the U.S. essentially handed over the reins of government to the Iraqis and walked away. Problem solved, right?

If you take a short-term view of it, maybe. America did topple Saddam’s regime, which was one of our stated goals. But look at the bigger picture. What exactly did America accomplish by taking out Saddam but not going after the real motivator behind Islamic terrorism?

Today, Iraq is not a more “united, stable and free country.” Instead, it is in constant turmoil and completely unstable. Although it is nominally democratic, it is a puppet of its larger and much more powerful neighbor–Iran.

Real Clear Defense wrote an article last week titled “Iraq as a ‘Client State’ of Iran.” According to that article, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni directs many of the militias in Iraq today. Many of these groups will promote candidates for the Iraqi parliamentary elections this year. Iran is deeply interested in making Iraq’s government pro-Iran. If Iraq is in Iran’s back pocket, that protects Iranian oil interests, secures the safety of its borders, and furthers Iran’s lifelong goal of maintaining hegemony in the Middle East.

When President Bush invaded Iraq, his critics said he only wanted Iraq’s oil, that the administration wanted to line its own pockets. Of course, that never happened. And look who is taking over Iraq and helping itself to Iraq’s oil wealth!

Real Clear Defense wrote, “In the early 2000s, Tehran preferred that both Iraq and Afghanistan should remain in a state of manageable chaos that kept the Americans occupied and unable to focus on Iran.” This was all part of their plan! Iran was thinking long term 15 years ago: Let the Americans have Iraq for now, but eventually they will wear out and leave, and then Iraq will be ours.

According to the article, Gen. David Petraeus (the head of the U.S. Central Command at the time) received a text message in 2008 from the commander of Iran’s al-Quds Force, Qassem Suleimani. The text message said: “General Petraeus, you should know that I, Qassem Suleimani, control the policy for Iran with respect to Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza and Afghanistan. And indeed, the ambassador in Baghdad is a Quds Force member. The individual who’s going to replace him is a Quds Force member.”

That was in 2008. Do you think Iran’s control has lessened since then? As my father has written, the Islamic State campaign was just a distraction from the real danger in the Middle East. Now that the Islamic State is on the way out, the door is open for Iran to cement its control over Iraq’s government–and its supremacy over the entire Middle East.

You should go back and look at what we were writing in 2003, as the invasion was happening. My father wrote an article in June 2003 titled “Is Iraq About to Fall to Iran?” In this article, he explained that the Iraq campaign was the latest round of America’s war on terror. But although Iran was and still is considered the number one state sponsor of terrorism, we were going after Saddam instead. My father wrote that even though “Iraq is a dangerous part of the equation,” America still was not going after “the head of the snake”!

My father has used this phraseology repeatedly over the years. In November 2003, he wrote, “We have to cut off the head of the terrorist snake.” In September 2006, he wrote that “America lacks the will to confront Iran, the head of the terrorist-sponsoring snake.” In a 2006 Key of David program, he said, “We see Iran virtually taking over Iraq, and we’ve said all along for years and years that you’re not going to conquer and win this terrorist war until you kill the head of the terrorist snake.”

At the Watch Jerusalem, we have probably talked about this subject more than just about any other topic for the past 15 years. However, we aren’t the only ones who see Iran’s role as the head of Islamic terrorism–or the only ones who have used this specific terminology. In April 2008, the Saudi ambassador to Washington commented about a meeting between King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and General Petraus. He said, “He [Abdullah] told you [Americans] to cut off the head of the snake” (emphasis added). Saddam was the only leader in the Middle East that the Iranians feared. By knocking him out, we essentially handed Iraq over to Iran on a silver platter!

My father wrote in 2003: “It may seem shocking, given the U.S. presence in the region right now, but prophecy indicates that, in pursuit of its goal, Iran will probably take over Iraq.”

Has that happened? It certainly has! And America has assisted Iran in doing it.

Look at what has happened in the 15 years since that invasion! After Saddam’s removal, Iraq turned into a free-for-all. For a few years, the Islamic State had control of large parts of both Iraq and Syria. Then the U.S. joined together with two unlikely partners, Iran and Russia, to run the Islamic State out of the region. Far from accepting “no outcome but victory” against Islamic terrorism, the U.S. has actually fought side-by-side with the leader of Islamic terrorism.

That is why the invasion of Iraq didn’t work. Instead of cutting off the head of the snake, America has actually helped Iran establish its supremacy at every turn.

How did the we know all the way back in 2003 that Iraq was going to fall to Iran? Our forecast was based on the sure word of Bible prophecy. The Bible indicated that Iraq would be under the control of Iran, which is called the “king of the south” in Daniel 11:40.

In Leviticus 26:19-20, God said of America, “And I will break the pride of your power … and your strength shall be spent in vain ….”The war in Iraq is a prime example of America’s strength being spent in vain. That is why Herbert W. Armstrong said after World War ii that America had won its last war. Our national pride in our power has been broken. Today, we are letting the number one state sponsor of terrorism do what it wants, with a few slaps on the wrist occasionally for appearances’ sake.

In a 2011 Key of David program, my father said, “And it appears that Iraq is going to be just solidly with Iran, and I have been predicting that since the early ’90s because of what these prophecies say. I’ve been predicting it that long. You’re not going to see Iraq become democratic; it’s not going to happen, and there’s going to be a really great strong turn toward Iran in that nation. … [T]hey have the upper hand in Iraq, even now, and the whole Middle East knows that. And that’s one reason why they fear Iran so much.”

The Middle East knows. Iraq knows. But America is intentionally oblivious.

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In 2003, someone reading the our articles probably would have thought, Oh come on, are you seriously saying that Iran is going to take over the Middle East, given the U.S. presence in the region? That’s crazy! But look at what has happened. You can clearly see how it has played out.

It is painful to watch nations die–especially your own nation–but it is such a wonderful blessing to have the light of God’s prophecies to shine on these world events. Because of Bible prophecy, we can know the significance of world events and where they are leading. We can’t lose sight of this history or this fulfilled prophecy. It glorifies God and His Word most of all. What a blessing to know that no matter what happens, God’s Word is sure!