In the past I have outraged some of my conservative friends by insisting that nation-building in Iraq was a dreadful idea, for two reasons. The first is that it wasted American lives, treasure, and political capital (it certainly helped elect the odious Barack Obama) on a Quixotic commitment to social engineering; the second (and more important) is that it made American forces de facto hostages of Iran, and blocked us from confronting our most urgent enemy. Unpopular as this view was in some parts of the conservative spectrum, it was shared by many senior American officers.
Now Iran feels emboldened to make its move in Iraq. We hear today from AP: