Agreeing to disagree! Wow. Reading this brought chills. This is one of only several times my ideas have been acknowledged as having some merit, by someone who disagreed with me, after many, many, many discussions over the past decade. And you gave me more than merit, you gave me reasonable. Thank you. US puppet mastery Yes. But a war being "just" isn't sufficient to send our boys and girls into harm's way. There must be benefit. See Benefit of Iraqi Invasion section. Ah! So, you do not object to our moving chess pieces around the board? Do I have that right? Is there any situation where you would support "ousting other country's leaders, or killing them, or invading other countries - without the provocation of an attack"? More than to move chess pieces around, I suppose is what I mean, if that makes any sense. The thing that really gets me about US foreign policy, is that all of our chess moves in the ME, up to the 2003 invasion, were for the objective of stability, at the expense of the people, to access resources. See Benefit of Iraqi Invasion section. Yes, this is a key point. In discussions with smart arabs, not kids, they admit to a duality: on the one hand we went in and took out the Sunnis and empowered the Shia - VERY BAD, while on the other hand, Saddam was brutal bastard dictator and needed to go. They also have their bastards that need to go, but they do not want western interference, or at least not until air cover is needed. The Iraqi invasion is actually a HUGE inspiration for them to take care of their own business. See Benefit of Iraqi Invasion section. Iraq Saudi Arabia, in collusion with China and Russia. Not good to lose our special friend with the big oil can. The rise in transnational Islamic terrorism, directed at the US as evidenced by many events leading up to 9/11, is totally connected to our support of regional autocracies. We had to address the underlying cause of transnational terrorism and not chase goats through the hills. See Benefit of Iraqi Invasion section. No doubt, but there are few presidents that really understand the nuances of the international situation and rely on picking good advisers. Isn't it fantastic that Keane was able to bend Cheney's ear and get in front of the Man. But...it is still a democracy. Not Jeffersonian, but maybe Al-Sistani Democracy? That beats Khameni Democracy! I am greatly anticipating Mursi Democracy in Egypt! (I ignore the military for the most part and look to see the informal coalition between the Copts/Sufis, MBs and the non-military seculars against the Salafis, through the establishment of a civic state). See Benefit of Iraqi Invasion section. Palestine For sure the Israelis do not trust a 2 state solution, which is why they split Palestine into two regions, in 48, first militarily then diplomatically. From the perspective of the Arabs, the west gives HUGE assistance to a "democratic" country created from a demographic invasion, who deny Palestinians the vote and actively suppress them economically and politically. If a 2 state solution is not in the cards, then that just leaves a proper democracy, with all Palestinians have the vote, or a deteriorating situation... The point is that it is another glaring example of the west moving chess pieces at the expense of the people. See Benefit of Iraqi Invasion section... Ta da! Benefit of Iraqi Invasion! So, this is more than just general benefit of geopolitical significance. It has to be US benefit of geopolitical significance. Of course, there is also all the special deals for oil companies and contractors...oops. For sure, the invasion was sold in some quarters for those greedy economic reasons. But that misses the real benefit. The real benefit to the US is a fundamental change in foreign relations strategy to the ME, that the average Arab Muslim could appreciate. Notwithstanding the fact that we empowered the Shia, mortal enemies of the Sunnis, at the expense of the Sunnis (although this was not the first option in the "Plan"), we did go in and knock out a former client, stating that our intention was to free the people. Now, most people didn't believe that for a minute, at least on the surface. But, guess what? That was indeed the primary geopolitical message and they did notice. So, what do they see now? A real mess, given the fulcrums in play. But they also see that the US acted not only for US benefit, but for the people's benefit, and whatever conspiracy theories arise, we still took out the strong man and developed a real democracy. They know we don't cause the Sunni and Shia militants to do what they do, but they know we unleashed them. The point is, this is the first time since the US became the superpower that we have acted somewhat in the interests of the average person. This has implications across the ME and NA, etc. Combined with our feeble diplomatic attempts to encourage democratic reforms and the subsequent Arab Spring, the Islamic world now sees the US on the side, to varying extents, of democrats across the region (Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, KSA, Yemen, Bahrain...). Another related benefit of the Iraqi invasion was the geopolitical storm we unleashed, from a country which was the site of three major Middle Eastern fulcrums, outwards to the rest of the Middle East, forcing everyone to change. Finally, we provided a third option to brutal autocracies and radical Islamists. We provided political room for the formation of democrats. So, the benefit of the Iraqi Invasion was 1) our change in foreign policy to the Middle East, 2) the socio-political shockwave sent out to upset the apple carts, and 3) political room for the growth of democrats as a third option to autocracy and theology. Edit: sorry, the US benefit to those things is that our actions better match our rhetoric.