Must-Read: The curious thing about Robert Farley’s piece is that he says: “today, the wiser among us recognize that ‘dual containment’ was, in large part, [more] a solution” rather than a problem. Why the “today”? From 1991–2003, in every sophisticated strategic discussion of the Middle East I participated in, the smart people always made the point that dual containment and the continued maintenance of the Saddam Hussein régime was bad for the people of Iraq but probably good for the people of the Middle East as a whole — and precisely for dual containment reasons.

And, of course, Cheney and Junior Bush’s attack on Iraq turned out to be bad for the people of Iraq as well.

Robert Farley: The Ultimate ‘What If’: A World Where America Never Invaded Iraq: “In 2003, we spoke of the policy of ‘dual containment’ as a problem…

…that needed a solution…. Today, the wiser among us recognize that ‘dual containment’ was, in large part, a solution to its own problem. The animosity of the Hussein regime and the Islamic Republic of Iran meant that neither could achieve overarching influence in the Gulf. In the wake of the Iraq War, ‘dual containment’ has become ‘basket case management’…. In Iraq itself, the legacy of the invasion of 2003 seems to be an inability to escape obligations to the new Iraqi government; the United States continues to act as the Iraqi air force, and continues to struggle to train reliable Iraqi army forces. Was dual containment manageable in the long run? The U.S. has spent far more in blood and treasure since 2003 than it did between 1991 and 2003, so from a purely military and financial standpoint the answer is clearly ‘yes.’ And while dual containment would have left the dreadful Hussein regime in power, it likely would have avoided the worst of the several civil wars that Iraq has endured in the past twelve years…