Remember Iraq? That’s the one where we announced “Mission Accomplished” in May 2003. Unfortunately, 11 years, 188,000 deaths (minimum) and $2 trillion later, the jihadis don’t agree.
I’m a young sprog of an editor, and in 2003 I wrote my graduate dissertation (rather gloomily) on Iraq’s possible collapse. It was, according to the respected politics professor marking it, one of the worst he had ever read. Fortunately his co-marker disagreed or I would have walked away with a third.
Even after the idiotic Washington decision to sack the entire Iraqi army – leaving a lot of men with guns jobless and angry – only the bleakest analysts predicted an Islamic caliphate led by extremists.
Yet the world now watches horrified as the vast Iraqi security forces melt away in the face of a few thousand fighters. Yesterday, another Iraqi city fell to the fundamentalist group Isis. The future of the Iraqi state is in doubt, with ramifications across the Middle East. The speed of the collapse is stunning, giving the appearance of wider collusion with the insurgency. Again, the US and Britain are humbled by the gulf between the hubris of 2003 and their ability to shape events.
My colleague Kim Sengupta, i’s defence correspondent, is billed to write for you on this page tomorrow, having reported extensively from Iraq over the past 12 years.
Our lead opinion article today is by the author J K Rowling: a plea to fellow residents of Scotland to vote No in the independence referendum. As part of the balanced coverage we try to provide for you, we have invited the Yes Scotland campaign to write a reply.