A dozen years ago, Congress authorized President George W. Bush to invade Iraq to prevent the regime of then-dictator Saddam Hussein from posing a threat to this country with weapons of mass destruction we later discovered he did not have.
In his second inaugural address in 2005, Bush described the broader utopian vision motivating his foreign policy.
"So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world," Bush said.
To this end, he sought to create a free and democratic government in Iraq, a country in which a Sunni minority had long dominated a Shiite majority, and where a Christian population had managed to survive since before there was such a thing as Islam.
Iraq was a place we little understood, and where the primary legitimate interest of our government was making sure no one could get from there to here with the intent and capability of killing us and our children.
Barack Obama ran for president promising to end the war Bush started, and he repeatedly said two things about his plans for doing so. These were exemplified by a speech he delivered at Camp LeJeune in February 2009.
The first: "I intend to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011." The second: "This strategy is grounded in a clear and achievable goal shared by the Iraqi people and the American people: an Iraq that is sovereign, stable and self- reliant."
In December 2011, when Obama did withdraw the last U.S. troops from Iraq, he simply announced his strategy had succeeded.
"Now, Iraq is not a perfect place," Obama said. "It has many challenges ahead. But we're leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people. We're building a new partnership between our nations. And we are ending a war not with a final battle, but with a final march toward home. This is an extraordinary achievement, nearly nine years in the making."
By Obama's accounting, Bush's Iraqi dream essentially came true during Obama's presidency.
Today, less than three years after Obama withdrew U.S. forces, a sectarian war divides Iraq. Sunnis are rising up against the Shiite-dominated government.
Who leads the Sunni rebellion?