While reading the new translation of War and Peace I started to notice parallels between Napoleon's invasion of Russia the the American war in Iraq. Tolstoy contended that great man don't make history. Instead all the people, no matter what their status, fate, and even God make history.
He says that once all the French army and the other European nations' armies amassed, Napoleon couldn't control them. They advanced to Moscow, even though it led to their undoing. Rational thought would have shown them that they couldn't prevail in the long run.
After the first Iraq war, the US was locked in an increasingly more tense struggle with Iraq. the Air Force enforced the no fly zone for at least ten years. Over the years the desire to attack Iraq became harder and harder to resist. The Iraqi government didn't do much to defuse the situation. But would anything save the death of Saddam Hussein have been acceptable?
After the 9/11 attack the pressure to attack Iraq became irresistible. When you have the world's biggest military and the need for vengeance, it's hard to stop. Certainly the president and his inner circle should have been more prudent. We have learned since then that there were enough people who knew what the likely outcome would be. It just got too hard to say no.