tv Long Road to Hell America in Iraq CNN October 26, 2015 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
you at least on "the ridiculist." we'll see you at 11:00 p.m. eastern. another edition of 360, "long road to hell, america in iraq" hosted by fareed zakaria starts now. in baghdad today, bombs go off on average every 12 hours. the awful routine that follows each bomb looks hauntingly familiar to americans who watch the iraq war play out on television. familiar except for this. after many bombings, he plays his cello. he's the conductor of the iraqi
orchestra. sometimes he plays the iraqi national anthem. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> my homeland they sing. life and hope are in your air. >> i george walker bush do solemnly swear. >> george w. bush had a dream. a vision where saddam would fall, the people would rejoice, and iraq would become a stable democracy, a beacon of hope breaking the endless cycle of extreme extreme is m in the middle east. if you think this is just
history, it isn't. many politicians want to send more troops back into iraq and syria, as well. it's the only way to defeat isis they say, but will another american intervention be more successful than the last one? this time it's crucial that we understand how the iraq war went so terribly wrong. go back to the beginning of the story. it's tempting to ask what if. what if there had been someone who could have warned us what would happen if we invaded iraq? in fact, there was one man who did just that. >> once you got to iraq and took it over and took down saddam hussein's government, what are you going to put in its place? that's a volatile part of the world and if you take down the central government in iraq, you can see pieces of iraq fall off. it's a quagmire. >> that's right, dick cheney predicted iraq would be a
quagmire. flash forward to 2003, now vice president, chioir cheney appear "meet the press". >> my belief is we will in fact beliberators. if you're not treated as liberators but conquerers and iraqis resist particularly in baghdad, do you think the american people are prepared for a long, costly and bloody battle with a significant american casualty? >> i don't think it's likely to unfold that way, tim, because i really do believe we will be greeted as liberators. >> so what changed dick cheney and why was george w. bush so determined to go to war in iraq? >> it's just one of those awful moments. >> 9/11 pushed him and cheney into a very dark place. >> i think it meant for george
w. bush, i have to prove that we're a tough guy. i have to prove that we can reshape the middle east. otherwise, the rest of my administration, various terrorists groups and dictators are going to take advantage of me. >> richard clark was in charge of counterterrorism in the white house on 9/11. it was that very night clark says when the iraq war really began. >> on the night of 9/11, we all meet in "the situation room" in the east wing of the bunker and the president is there and in that conversation rums field talks about invading iraq where the pentagon is burning. the president says saddam, saddam, go back and look at
everything and find whether saddam was involved. >> so even as the fires of 9/11 still burned. >> the people who knocked those buildings down will hear all of us soon. [ cheers ] >> one of the most disastrous chapters in the history of american intelligence began, building a case to go to war against saddam hussein, even though he had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. >> when you want to believe something and you say to the world, give me intelligence that says this, they will give you intelligence that says that. >> information was gathered fast. many sources of iraqi intelligence were barely vetted. >> 9/11 changed everything. >> and it changed americans. >> usa! usa! >> george bush rode a powerful
wave of patriotism, american flags were everywhere. >> to run out of probably 600,000 flags in a period of couple days is just incredible. >> the president's approval rating soared. and republicans, democrats and journalists rallied around him. >> george bush is the president. he makes the decisions, and, you know, it's just one american wherever he wants me to line up, just tell me where. >> americans did line up, just three months after 9/11 the u.s. went to war in afghanistan. against the taliban who had sheltered osama bin laden. despite grim predictions from experts, the taliban were toppled. bolstering the bush administration's confidence and the nation's trust in it. so at the white house, the focus turned back to iraq. to finding a justification for
war. >> can't distinguish between al qaeda and saddam when you talk about the war on terror. >> as the months went on, the rhetoric grew frightening. >> you cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun could come in the form of a mushroom cloud. >> there was a constant drum beat of one phrase, weapons of mass destruction. >> saddam hussein's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction poses a grave danger. >> saddam hussein is a homicidal dictator who is addicted to weapons of mass destruction. >> not everyone was buying what the administration was selling. though, the majority of americans supported the war, huge anti war corrodes fill the streets of new york and opposition in europe was fierce. >> police said 100 thousand marched in paris alone.
>> france and germany among others refused to back the white house. >> he's bush's witch. >> but britain's tony blair stood by george w. bush. >> it's important we hold to the path that we set out. ♪ ♪ >> and in this country, there were many experts who believed in george bush's vision, that deposing saddam hussein could be the jolt the middle east needed, that do democracy was possible in iraq. >> we're about to see a major historical event unfold live on television. >> when secretary of state colin powell presented a powerful and persuasive case against saddam to the united nations. >> we have firsthand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and rails. ladies and gentlemen, these are
sophisticated facilities. for example, they can produce anthrax and toxins and enough dry biological agent in a single month to kill thousands upon thousands of people. >> everything you just heard colin powell say is not true. >> leaving saddam hussein in possession of weapons of mass destruction for a few more months or years is not an option. >> there is no clear evidence anyone knew it then, but there were no mobile biological weapons factories. there was no nuclear weapons program, no weapons of mass destruction period. it was a catastrophic failure of intelligen intelligence. sick we six weeks later, america went to war. >> my fellow americans, at this hour american and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm
iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave dange danger. >> operation iraqi freedom happened fast. faced with a lightning u.s.-led attack, iraq's vast army melted away. baghdad fell in less than three weeks. saddam hussein and his sons disappeared. >> u.s. intelligence officials say saddam could be injured or even dead. >> there was wild celebration in the streets. it looked as though george bush's dream was going to come true. and then, all hell broke loose.
just weeks after saddam was toppled, iraq was in chaos, no one was in charge. >> what happened to my country? fighting, killing, stealing. >> virtually every government building was looted. iraqi's carries off everything they could find, electricity was out all over the country. massive piles of garbage went uncollected. >> there was an opportunity to win the hearts and minds and that was completely lost. >> children roamed the streets. >> my school is closed and my destiny is minute by minute lost. >> schools were closed indefinitely. >> we have to study. we have to study. you invade us. >> gas lines were miles long in
an oil rich country. >> there are three top priorities, number one, water, number two, water, number three, water. >> running water had been cut off. and an increasingly desperate situation rage boiled over. >> who responsible? i ask you and all the world why? why? you don't know. i don't know. who knows? who knows? >> stuff happens. >> back in washington. >> good afternoon. >> given how predictable the lack of law and order was. >> reporters confronted donald rums field about the chaos. >> it's a fundamental
misunderstanding to see the images over and over again with some boy walking out with a vase saying you didn't have a plan. that's nonsense. they know what they are doing and doing a terrific job and it's untidy and free people are free to make mistakes. >> but the biggest mistake was this. despite his assurances, it was clear. the united states did not have a plan for post war iraq. as the chaos grew deeper, so did the divide between iraq sunni's and shiites with no one in charge, iraqis clung more tightly to what they knew, to members of their own clans. other muslims began to look like the enemy. the seeds of civil war were zone. >> our country will send the best citizens. >> two months after toppling saddam, the president dispatched
him to iraq to clean up the mess. >> mr. ambassador, thank you for taking this honor. good luck. >> he had never been to iraq and served in the middle east or serve in a conflict situation. >> and wait until you see what he did when he got to iraq. that's next on the "long road to hell." king your clearance. so why would you invest without checking brokercheck? check your broker with brokercheck. innovative sonicare technology with up to 27% more brush movements versus oral b. get healthier gums in 2 weeks guaranteed. innovation and you. philips sonicare save when you buy the most loved rechargeable toothbrush brand in america. so you may take an omega-3 supplementortant... ...but it's the ingredients inside
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landed in a city spinning out of control. >> the city was on fire. all of the ministries had been looted. police stations all over the country had been destroyed. >> george bush promised to keep people of iraq safe. >> saving iraq was up to a man that had never served in the middle east, spoke no arabic and had been given three weeks to prepare for his mission. >> the only significant organization he had run was being ambassador to the netherlands. it was astounding. >> thanks for taking this honor. proud of you. >> right away, within just a few days on the ground, bremer issued two orders widely considered to be among the most calamitous mistakes of the iraq war. >> they were disastrous. >> the first was a decrete, barring all members of saddam's party from holding government
jobs. >> use their power to oppress the iraqi people will be removed from office. >> several hundred thousand iraqis who were the people who were the most advantaged to have the best education, all these people lost their jobs. >> and then, bremer fired saddam's army, young iraqi men mostly sunnies turned out into the chaotic streets. of course, they still had their guns. >> this is a huge concern. >> general david petraeus was fighting the iraqi unsure again see. >> i said your policy is killing the troops. you cast them out of the one institution actually respected in iraq and now they have no future. >> many critics have pointed to bremer's two orders as the reason for the iraqi insurgency. some say they even led to isis. >> many of the people who are today with the islamic state on
the military side are people from that army. >> who approved the order? for years members of the bush administration pointed fingers at each other but for the first time paul bremer gave me a clear answer to the question. why have they put the blame on you? >> not the president. >> not the president but -- >> no, the president hasn't. >> he approved? >> yes. >> george bush has never taken clear responsibility but bremer says the idea to fire bath party members came from this man, doug fieth was a key member. >> the degree was drafted and ready to be signed before i left, in fact, the day before i left under secretary of defense showed me the draft and said we're going to issue this tomorrow. >> paul bremer says debath fa
case was your idea. >> no, it was discussed inter agency for months and the decision was made that some degree of debath case would be requir required, bremer, set up the me mechanism. >> a lot of the allegations. >> doug played a key role in the original mistake. the false prewar intelligence that led to war. his office was staffed at looking at intelligence, some of which the cia did not deem credible. >> the problem with the cia was that it was sloppy over and over again. >> remember the intelligence george bush asked for on the night of 9/11? >> the president asked me saddam, saddam, find, go back, look at everything.
find whether or not saddam was involved. >> doug fieth found what the president was asking for, a 2007 pentagon investigation was highly critical of what he found and how he found it. >> the inspector general report says that effectively that your office was cherry picking evidence and that was inappropriate. >> no, the inspector general never said that. what the inspector general said, if you want to get into that, was. >> develop, produce and deseminate intelligence of the iraq al qaeda relationship inconsistent with the consensus of the intelligence community. >> that for sure. we disagreed with the intelligence community. >> so did dick cheney. he was quick to blame the cia. >> when he sat in the oval office and the president of the united states asked him, george, how good is the case against saddam and weapons of mass destruction. >> he said it's a slam dunk mr.
president, it's a slam dunk. >> there has been no formal process to hold anyone accountable for the terrible misjudgments of the iraq war but one former administration official says there were more than just mistakes. >> i think if you look at the technical definition of some war crimes, i think the united states committed war crimes. >> there have been calls for war crime trials in england against former prime minister tony blair, george bush's staunch ally and partner during the war. blair is the only person we spoke to during this program that took responsibility for iraq. >> i can say that i apologize for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong. i can only apologize by the way for some of the mistakes and planning and certainly our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you remove the regime but i find it
hard to apologize for removing saddam. i think even from today in 2015 it is better that he's not there than that he is there. >> coming up next, the men who want to go back. >> you got to fight them. you got to fight them. >> and the enemy we could face. >> end of future. [speaking foreign language].
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>> iraqis are running for their lives. tens of thousands of them desperate to escape isis. and many more are fleeing syria. >> we're running now with these migrants and refugees. >> all of them on a dangerous journey to reach europe. to reach safety. >> we hope to get germany. >> governments there are struggling with how to handle the gigantic numbers. some are closing their borders or worse. >> sorry. okay. i can smell that tear gas now. they are chanting.
♪ ♪ >> the risks he refugees take have become heartbreakingly clear, but still, they come. because for many, the alternative is this. ♪ ♪. [ gunshots ]. >> the most dangerous band of thugs the world has ever seen. >> we will continue to strike the next of your people. >> the beheadings, the mass murders, the rape and enslavement of women. all of it was born of the rage and chaos that have crippled the country since america first went into iraq. >> if it were not for the american invasion of iraq, and the subsequent disbanding of the iraqi army by the united states, there would be no isis.
>> now this is camp. >> the seeds of isis grew at an american prison in the iraqi desert. during the insurgency, the most dangero dangerous jihads were locked up at camp bucca. in 2004, one of them was al baghdadi. the future leader of isis. >> he wasn't considered from everything that we know how a high-level detain. he was allowed to lead prayers and give religious lessons. >> that's right. the u.s. not only had him in custody, he was actually allowed to teach islam to fellow inmates. by 2014, his isis was declaring itself a caliphate, an islamic
state and across the world, young muslims heard the call. >> i'm a young brother from syria. i originally come from canada. >> all believers come who can make it come. [speaking foreign language]. >> we want to get isis. >> all of it led to angry calls from the presidential campaign trail. >> how does president obama sleep at night? >> from candidates who say it's time to go to war with isis. >> if i'm president of the united states, we're going in on the ground and we're going to pull the caliphate up by the roots and kill every one of these we can find because if not, they are coming here. let's get on with it. >> donald trump is urging combat. here he is on "60 minutes". >> with isis and iraq, you got to knock them out. >> how? >> fight them. >> troops on the ground? >> yes. >> but go to war where?
how? the obama administration has struggled to fight isis without actually going into ground combat. 3,500 troops are on the ground. training iraqi forces. >> the iraqi army abandoned its position. >> the same forces who had famously run from battle when confronted by isis. >> the iraqi army out numbered isis 20 or 30-1 in mosul. iraq's second largest city and basically surrendered it without a fight. >> perhaps the most important question is, does it make sense to go to war again in a country that may not even be a country anymore? listen to the people who know iraq well. >> iraq doesn't exist except lines on a map. >> most iraqis no longer see
themselves as iraqis. they seem themselves as shiite or sunni and u.s. foreign policy like it or not probably has to adapt to a post iraqi era. i keep saying the era has seen its day. >> the map tells the story. up here in the north is kurdish largely self-governing called kurdistan. south of the baghdad are shiite. in the middle, this large swath, one-third of iraq that spills into syria is sunni land. this is where isis has taken control, this is what it has turned into a de facto islamic state. iraq ends here but only on maps, the border between iraq and syria drawn by the french and british after world war oi has
become meaningless. most inhabit this area and the islamic state controls large swaths of it, as well. so any boots on the ground fight against isis would likely have to be in both iraq and syria. >> this is the aftermath of russia's first air strike in syria. >> another twist, vladimir putin's military has joined the fight. it is now dropping bombs in syria to support its ally bashar al-ass al-assad. a chaotic picture. all of which leads back to one question. can we fight isis in iraq? when there really is no iraq
left. >> at the end of the day we can't put that country together. >> the blame blame escalates. president bush or president obama. >> the person i blame is barack obama, not george w. bush. >> when we return, the finger pointing versus the facts. if you have high blood pressure many cold medicines may raise your blood pressure.
what put iraq in the position now? the beginning, bush's invasion or the end, president obama's withdraw? >> we're here because of the disastrous blunder that got us into this war in iraq and developed a can of worms. >> when it comes to blaming people about iraq, the person i blame is barack obama, not george w. bush. >> the american public is evenly split, 44% say it's obama's fault, 43% say it's bush's. >> and the war in iraq was unwise. >> president obama has said he was opposed to the iraq war from the start. and when he ran for president in 2008, he made an important
pledge. >> when i am commander in chief, i will set a new goal on day one. i will end this war. >> four years later a little slower than he hoped, the last american combat soldier left iraq. bush administration under secretary of defense douglas feith says it bolstered iran and isis. >> the thing that gave them the greatest opportunity is when president obama decided to quit. and we killed our influence in the country. >> obama official anthony blinken says there is a hitch in the argument. it wasn't obama that set the withdraw. >> in 2008 there was a status agreement with the government of iraq and it provided that the united states and its forces
would leave iraq by the end of 2011. >> many participants in the process say the obama administration didn't try hard enough because at the end of the day, president obama wanted to get out. >> at the end of the day, the iraqis wanted us out. that's what happened. >> those iraqis were led by prime minister maliki. he met frequently with david petraeus. >> i would love to test the proposition of 10,000 troops and three or four operational commander might have given us the influence necessary to persuade the prime minister from highly sectarian actions he took. >> 10,000 troops, a plan to leave a force of that size had
been floated in washington and baghdad. it was a plan that never came to fruition. >> i don't know whether 10,000 troops would give us the leverage. i actually suspect it might not have, but i would have liked to test the proposition. >> it was never tested, some experts say because of prime minist minister. after iran made sure malaki was reelected prime minister in 2010, malaki turned around and did a favor for iran. he promised to expel all american forces before 2011 was over. now back in 2006, it was george w. bush who put malaki in office in the first place, so does bush bear the blame? richard clark made a point earlier on in which he tells us what he thinks. >> if it were not for the american invasion of iraq and the subsequent disbanding of the iraqi army by the united states,
there would be no isis. isis is a direct out growth. >> clark's former colleague douglas feith sticks to his guns. >> if today we knew what we know about what happened in iraq, would you going back have invaded iraq? what's your answer? >> i think that the only meaningful way to approach that is to ask whether president bush knowing what he knew at the time made the right decision, and i think he did. >> tony blair when he was prime minister of the united kingdom was bush's most public partner on the iraq war. >> those who removed saddam in 2003 have no responsibility for the situation in 2015. >> blair still wonders what was the alternative.
>> we've tried intervention and putting down troops in iraq. we've tried intervention without putting in troops in libya. and we've tried no intervention at all but demanding regime change in syria. it's not clear to me that even if our policy did not work, subsequent policies have worked better. >> bush or obama? well, maybe there's another party to blame for the sad state of iraq and the region. >> what's happened in the middle east is in part the result of things we've done like the iraq war and things we haven't done like syria or libya. there is any number of acts of co-mission and omission which historians will rightly take the united states and others to task for but what is missing from this analysis is also local responsibility. this is a deeply flawed part of the world that never came to terms. >> next on "gps" from blame to credit. george w. bush is rightly lotted
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have been filled with bloody and deadly violence. but there was a period of hope, a time when the bloodshed and violence abated. that brief period had its jennings in some of the darkest days of despair. january 10th, 2007. president george w. bush goes before the american people to talk about the war effort. >> it is clear that we need to change our strategy in iraq. the most urgent priority for success in iraq is security. >> almost exactly a month later -- general david petraeus arrives in baghdad after being named the new u.s. commander in iraq. he had already done two long tours of duty in country. but what he sees this time
around, almost four years after the war started, was disturbing and different. >> the first day -- full day in command was traveling around baghdad to see the situation there which, frankly, was really, really quite horrifying. i had known these neighborhoods as thriving, bustling, prosperous areas. in some cases, you know, completely blown up, people had moved out. in one case, it was almost metaphorical. there was literally tumble weed blowing down this empty road. >> the president had decided iraq needed an influx of american troops to secure the peace. petraeus had a plan to do just that. >> do you mind if i ask what you do for a living? >> and it started with this. >> the only way to secure the people, the only way to ensure security is to live with them, to be in the neighborhood 24 hours a day, seven days a week. >> the general says this tactic was the exact opposite of what
the united states had been doing in the prior months, pulling out of the cities and towns and neighborhoods of iraq and retreating to massive u.s. bases. >> let's go. move it. >> in petraeus's parlance, the new policy was once the town was cleared of its ma lev lent forces, the next step was to hold it with american troops staying there in the town amongst the iraqi civilians to make sure that the bad guys didn't come back. the other interesting innovation of the early surge was even more controversial. he needed to find a way to stop the sunni insurgents from killing american troops and iraqi civilians. they were an open rebellion against the government. >> we had to give them incentives to support the new iraq. >> the idea was to give the sunnis a piece of the pie. >> they, you know, iraq has a bounty of energy resources and
water, the last of the two rivers, great farmland. it has incredible natural blessings and they want to have their share of that. >> petraeus and his commanders quickly turned that around by hiring those sunni militias to work for them. the militias would now be paid to protect the very same groups of people they had been killing. >> at the make the shake wes contractors and we would contract with these with for fixed site security just as we did with international security firms. >> those tactics and many others made the military surge work. >> i think during the 19 1/2 months that i was privileged to command the multi national force in iraq violence went down by 80 or 85%. it was incredible. >> it was incredible until it stopped working, which it did as the united states began pulling back. coming up, my thoughts on the lessons of america in iraq.
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i believed that a modern democracy in iraq could be a new model of politics for the region, a middle ground between repressive dictatorships and islamic if a national simple and i never believed iraqi or arabs were somehow genetically incapable of self-rule. i do believe the u.s. needed to send in more troops than it did to maintain order. a urged a u.n. mandate to aan american occupation of a middle eastern country. i worried that iraq's sectarian divisions would pull the country apart. but it doesn't change the fact that i did support the decision to topple saddam hussein's regime. some good came of it. saddam was a gruesome dictator who killed hundreds of thousands and plunged his country into wars. iraq is now more free and open than almost any other abe rab country despite its struggles. occurred stan is a real success
story, an oasis of tolerance. but in the end, the iraq war as a failure and a terrible mistake, causing geopolitical chaos and humanitarian tragedy. millions of iraqis were displaced. at least 150,000 civilians died. in addition to the almost 4,500 brave american soldiers. some argue that one can overlearn the lessons of iraq. sure, but my caution about a larger american intervention in syria or elsewhere derives not just from iraq. consider this. the united states replaced the regime in iraq and gave the new one massive assistance for a decade. the result, chaos and humanitarian tragedy. washington toppled the regime in libya, but chose not to attempt nation building in that country. the result has been chaos and
humanitarian tragedy. washington supported a negotiated regime in yemen and the election that followed, but generally took a back seat. the result? chaos and humanitarian tragedy. the reality in that part of the world is that many of its regimes are fragile, providing over weak institutions, little civil society and often no sense of nationhood itself. in that situation, outside interventions, however well meaning, might not make things better. sometimes they can even make things worse. could iraq have turned out differently and set a different pattern? if a stable, functioning democracy had been established in the heart of the middle east, could it have been a model for the region, a third wave betwee dictatorship and islamic radicalism? well, if america had made all the right decisions, who knows.
but it didn't. and as a result, we will never truly know. thanks for watching. i'm faried zakaria. this is cnn breaking news. >> i want you to look at this video. we have new details on this video that is shocking america right now. the officer arresting a student in this south carolina classroom today has been named and we're learning more about him tonight. we're getting to all of that. this is cnn tonight. i'm don lemon. it is the video that you have got to see to believe, caught on cell phone camera, a student at spring valley high school in columbia refuses to leave class after her teacher and a school administrator tell her to get out. the school officer identified as ben heels is called in. he reportedly says, quote, you're either going to come with me or i'm going to make you.