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Nicholas Burns

Iraq War damaged US credibility

THE WAR in Iraq was a strategic miscalculation and the single greatest blow to American power and prestige since Vietnam. I supported the initial invasion in 2003 while serving as US ambassador to NATO, but have long since been convinced that any good from it was far outweighed by the sacrifices of our soldiers and the significant damage to our international credibility.

We must never forget the human cost of the war. We lost 4,500 young American men and women. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed, wounded, and made homeless. Also, the war cost close to $1 trillion at a time we could ill afford it. And, when it became clear that the stated reason for our invasion was blatantly and inexcusably wrong, we lost any hope of international support as well as the trust of our own people. Furthermore, our occupation had the ironic effect of strengthening the radical government of neighboring Iran, a much more dangerous foe than Saddam Hussein ever was to us. Finally, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo did lasting damage to America’s reputation among the world’s more than 1 billion Muslims.

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