Modern Diplomacy
American Invasion of Iraq: A Battle Won, a War Lost
Valdai Club Conference Hall, Tsvetnoy boulevard 16/1, Moscow, Russia
List of speakers

On March 20, the Valdai Club hosted an expert discussion titled "Iraq Twenty Years On: What the American Intervention Led to." Moderator Andrey Sushentsov called the invasion of Iraq one of the largest military-political adventures of the United States to have had a humanitarian pretext. He stressed that it marked the peak of the notorious “unipolar moment” - a period when the United States believed that its actions would not meet with any resistance in the international arena. 

Elbrus Kutrashev, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Iraq, noted that in terms of the scale of its impact on the world, the intervention in Iraq could be compared with the current situation in Ukraine. In his opinion, today's difficult situation in Iraq is largely due to the events of that time and the subsequent clumsy actions of the interventionists. Although many people in Iraq still have a positive attitude towards the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, everyone also remembers the "lawlessness" of the occupiers. In particular, it was the American-British adventure that opened Iraq to international terrorism. He pointed to the pragmatism shown by the Russian Federation in relations with Iraq. Russia was ready to work with all its power, and as a result, Iraq became a friendly country for it. "We have no enemies in Iraqi society," he said.

According to Mohammed Ihsan, a visiting senior fellow at King's College, London, the US operation turned out to be disastrous because the Americans neither acted in the name of the Iraqis nor for their benefit. Ihsan, who was in opposition twenty years ago and welcomed the liquidation of Saddam Hussein's regime and later held high positions in the Iraqi administration at the regional level and in the central government, admitted, “The US won the battle but lost the war – you can’t force democracy on anyone.” He believes that the invasion seriously reduced the standard of living in Iraq and created a political vacuum, destroying the balance of power in the country. This was followed by the "Arab Spring", which led to grave consequences throughout the Middle East. Ihsan emphasized that the mentality of the West has not changed since then, and this has manifested in the Ukrainian crisis. 

Maxim Suchkov, director of the MGIMO Institute for International Studies of the Russian Foreign Ministry, analysed the results of American experiments in the Middle East. He called Operation Desert Storm the beginning of the "golden decade" of American politics. Ironically, the American dominance ended where it began - that is, in Iraq. According to Suchkov, the decision taken in 2003 to invade Iraq resulted in three crises, the consequences of which have not yet been overcome. First, there is a crisis of confidence in the institutions and ideas that America has nurtured. Those who believed in democracy and the liberal world order were greatly disappointed. Second, there is a security crisis, and not only in Iraq, but throughout the Middle East. The invasion undermined the fragile statehood of countries in the region, and provoked the emergence of many terrorist groups. Third, there is a crisis of geopolitical governance. The Americans did not achieve any of the goals that they had set for themselves in the region. On the contrary, the invasion dealt a heavy blow to them.