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Iraq War's legacy: Loss of lives, rise of ISIS, & political turmoil | GZERO World with Ian Bremmer

Iraq War's legacy: Loss of lives, rise of ISIS, & political turmoil

On the 20th anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq, US Senator Tammy Duckworth and NBC's Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel sit down with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World to reflect on the legacy of a war that reshaped the Middle East and continues to reverberate around the world.

Senator Duckworth, a former helicopter pilot who lost both her legs in the Iraq War and now sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee. She emphasizes the importance of honoring the promises made to veterans and the impact it has military readiness. "The cost of going to war isn't just the tanks, the guns, the helicopters, and the ammunition during the period of actual conflict," Duckworth says, "The cost of war goes on for many decades."

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Richard Engel on Iraq, Ukraine, and the danger of 'wars of choice' | GZERO World

Richard Engel on Iraq, Ukraine, and the danger of 'wars of choice'

Richard Engel, NBC's Chief Foreign Correspondent, was one of the few US TV journalists on the ground in Baghdad when the US-led invasion of Iraq began in 2003. Engel joins GZERO World to reflect on his experience covering the Iraq War as a freelance journalist, and what lessons he took away as he covers other global conflicts, like the war in Ukraine.

Engel recounts the lead-up to the war in 2003, when it was very difficult to enter Iraq, and how he ended up getting into the country on a "human shield" visa. Once inside, he found a population that was beaten down by years of dictatorship, and a chaotic, disorganized government. While many Iraqis expressed their joy that "Americans were coming in and getting rid of Saddam," it got ugly very quickly. The Bush Administration made a lot of mistakes, and there was lingering resentment from the Sunni Muslim community, which led to anger and animosity.

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Ian Explains: Mistakes & mixed legacy of US “shock & awe” in Iraq | GZERO World

Ian Explains: 20 years since the Iraq War: Lessons learned, questions raised

The 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, dubbed "Operation Iraqi Freedom," began 20 years ago. The Bush Administration told the world that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction and the war would last weeks, but none of that was true.

In fact, almost nothing in the Iraq War went as planned. The US wasn't prepared for a violent insurgency that lasted years, killing thousands of US troops and hundreds of thousands of civilians. And two decades from its start, the war still casts a long shadow––the rise of ISIS, a civil war, ongoing violence and political turmoil.

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A U.S. soldier watches as a statue of Iraq's President Saddam Hussein fall in central Baghdad, Iraq, in April 2003.

REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

Was Iraq a success or failure?

On a visit to Iraq in the spring of 2021, I was chatting with a group of Iraqi and western friends – all current or former advisors to the Iraqi, US, or UK governments – when the conversation turned to whether the 2003 US-led war to depose Saddam Hussein’s regime had been worthwhile. The dogmatism, divisiveness, and emotion that characterized the debate in the run-up to the war were still evident. For some, ending the murderous brutality and atrocities of Saddam’s rule superseded any other concern. Others were more equivocal, pointing to the corruption, violence, and misrule of the US-bequeathed, post-2003 political order and the toll it has taken on the country.

On the 20th anniversary of the war, the question of whether Iraq is better or worse off and whether the cost in coalition lives and money was worth it is, almost inevitably, being revisited. But it is a feckless one. The reality of Iraq’s experience since 2003 cannot be captured by a simplistic dichotomy; the country is — as it always was — more complicated than that.

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Colin Powell, trailblazing soldier and statesman, dead at 84

Colin Powell, trailblazing soldier and statesman, dead at 84

Gen. Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and US secretary of state, died on Monday morning at age 84 from complications of Covid-19. Although he was fully vaccinated, he was undergoing treatment for blood cancer, which made him immunocompromised.

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Former US Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff Discusses Counterterrorism | GZERO World

Former US Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff discusses counterterrorism

For Michael Chertoff, former US secretary of Homeland Security from 2005 to 2009, the fact that America has not experienced a single attack by foreign terrorists since 9/11 proves that the US was "successful" in its strategy to prevent terrorism. That "was not [an] accident and there was a deterrent effect to be honest — had we been lax, more would have tried." Although he admits the US government wasn't transparent enough about the intelligence it was collecting, Chertoff credits US intelligence agencies with helping to foil the plot to blow up airplanes mid-air from Heathrow to the US in 2006. The US mission in Iraq, or what came after was not clearly thought out, according to Michael Chertoff, who served as the Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security under George W. Bush. The Iraq war made it difficult to focus on the US mission in Afghanistan and absorbed resources that could have been used more effectively elsewhere, he said.

Watch this episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer: Is America safer since 9/11?

Ian Bremmer Explains: US National Security in the 20 Years Since 9/11 | GZERO World

US national security in the 20 years since 9/11

Ten years after the 9/11 attacks, many people hoped that the death of Osama Bin Laden would signal an end to America's role as the de facto world police. Instead, 20 years later we are seeing the impact of US national security policy play out once more in Afghanistan. The Taliban is now back in control, a local ISIS group has claimed responsibility for the bloody attack on August 26, and big questions remain about what America's war there actually accomplished. America's image abroad has been hurt by high civilian casualties to torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, while policies implemented in the US in the name of security included huge (and at times even illegal) surveillance dragnets of US citizens and gave law enforcement unprecedented powers. But the United States has avoided another catastrophic 9/11-style attack on our soil. On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer explores the question: is the US actually safer today than before the towers fell?

Watch the episode: Is America Safer Since 9/11?

The Case Against Pulling Out of Afghanistan This Year | Rep. Mike Waltz | GZERO World

The case against pulling out of Afghanistan this year

Earlier this month President Biden did what three of his predecessors could not: he announced an unconditional end to the war in Afghanistan after twenty years of American boots on the ground. This week, US Congressman Mike Waltz (R-FL), a combat-decorated Green Beret who served multiple tours in Afghanistan, joins GZERO World to explain why he thinks President Biden's announcement will end in catastrophe, for Afghans and Americans alike.

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