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America’s 35 years of failure in Iraq, in one list

Three decades of this, basically.
Three decades of this, basically.
Mission accomplished. (Steven Jaffe/AFP/Getty Images)
Zack Beauchamp is a senior correspondent at Vox, where he covers ideology and challenges to democracy, both at home and abroad. Before coming to Vox in 2014, he edited TP Ideas, a section of Think Progress devoted to the ideas shaping our political world.

The United States has a long and storied history of awful foreign policy decisions. But there's a strong case that, in the past 35 years, American policy hasn't failed any harder than it has in Iraq.

Here's a short list, posted by Twitter user @jhreling,  of how badly America's Iraq policy has gone, sorted by each president since Jimmy Carter took office in 1977. In broad strokes, it's an epically unbroken chain of disasters:

There are some things to quibble about in the list. It implies each president's policy was the main cause of each disaster, which isn't really true. For instance, Carter cozying up to Saddam isn't the primary reason that he invaded Iran, and Reagan's support wasn't the main reason Saddam gassed Kurds in the Anfal campaign. The list pretty dramatically overstates the death toll from sanctions during the 90s, and it ignores one of the few successes of US policy on Iraq: George H.W. Bush preventing Saddam from annexing Kuwait.

But in the broad sweep of things, the basic point holds. America's Iraq policy has failed to stop, and in some cases  caused, a long string of crises and disasters.

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