My point here is that neither supporters nor detractors of the War in Iraq foresaw the emergence of Iran and it is this emergence which prompted my question about Saddam as our military forces prepare to leave Iraq.
This is clearly untrue. One of the most obvious consequences of deposing Hussein was that it would increase Iran’s regional influence by removing the anti-Iranian bulwark that Hussein’s regime represented. Opponents of the invasion certainly mentioned this in the months before the war started, and many of us pointed it out quite frequently in the years that followed. While skeptics sometimes imagined more direct Iranian interference in Iraq than there has been, they correctly predicted that Iran would benefit significantly from Hussein’s overthrow. Contrary to Goldstein’s claim, the Margolis article Clark cited touched on this as well:
This chronically unstable “Pandora’s Box,” as Jordan’s King Abdullah calls it, is the nation the U.S. plans to rule. When Saddam falls, Iraq will almost certainly splinter. This is the very reason why Bush père wisely decided against marching on Baghdad in 1991. President Bush Sr. and his Arab allies concluded Iran would annex southern Iraq.
The fear of annexation was unfounded, but the basic understanding that Iran would wield greater influence in a post-Saddam Iraq was correct. Considering the links between Tehran and the leading Shi’ite parties in Iraq, increased Iranian influence was inevitable once those parties were permitted to run the Iraqi government. Not only was this increased influence foreseeable, it was foreseen as long ago as 1991.