Yesterday's deadly bomb blasts in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities were bloody reminders of the country's continued instability and the fact that it could still collapse into a Balkanised entity, or even a completely failed state.
But perhaps the greater lesson from today's Iraq is of the dangers that lurk when citizens are cowed or cajoled into forfeiting independent thought in favour of intellectual conformity and the embrace of iterative policies by their governments.
Those bombings in Iraq, mainly in Shi'ite neighbourhoods, coincided with the 10th anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq by America's George W. Bush, purportedly to "disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger".
That danger, supposedly, was the so-called weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) - chemical and nuclear - that Mr Bush and Britain's Tony Blair told the world that Saddam Hussein had stashed across Iraq.
Saddam may indeed have been a nasty piece of work, who repressed his people and fought wars against Iran and Kuwait - the former initially with America's support. But it is clear now, as it ought to have been then, that he was not in possession of WMDs. 'Evidence' to the contrary was fabricated.
Nor was Saddam involved in, or a sponsor of, Osama bin Laden's 9/11 attack on America. Nor was he a harbourer of the al-Qaida-style Islamist terrorists who threatened the West.
The early 2000s, however, were a different time. The neocons ruled the world. Their ideology of pre-emptive war and regime change, in the name of democracy, was pre-eminent. Bad people like Saddam, therefore, were potential - and from their perspective, legitimate - targets of the new ideologues.
What is to be learned from this experience is the skill with which the proponents of war scripted an iterative narrative. Even in the world's most engaged democracies, majorities suspended disbelief and became at one with the herd. They marched to the drumbeat of patriotism.
LOSSES ON MANY FRONTS
Unfortunately for America, Iraq was the wrong war, fought for the wrong reason. Its cost has been staggering - nearly US$4 trillion in monetary terms as well as 4,500 American soldiers killed and 30,000 injured.
Tens of thousands of Iraqi lives have been lost. And as Tuesday's events demonstrated, two years after American combat troops went home; the bloodletting is not yet ended.
The architecture of democracy that was to have replaced Saddam is on shaky foundations. Sectarian violence between Iraq's Shi'a majority and Sunnis continues, and the Kurds in the north are almost independent of the rest of the country. The Shi'a-dominated central government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is in a state of near paralysis. From a geopolitical perspective, Iraq's close relationship with Shi'a majority Iran would be seen by many as a slap in the face of the West.
A worse security headache is that Iraq became a haven for home-grown and imported al-Qaida spin-offs, who now want to make their presence felt in the Syrian civil war. Socially, the Shi'a religious conservatism has begun to tell in, among other ways, worsening attitudes towards the rights of women, even when they are enshrined in law.
A unified, democratic Iraq may yet materialise. But even if it does, it is patently obvious that Bush, et al, badly miscalculated.
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