In an otherwise excellent review of the costs of the Iraq war, Robert Merry makes an unnecessary concession to the dead-enders:

Some argue that the Iraq invasion inspired the Arab Spring, leading to the overthrow of Mubarak in Egypt, Zine el-Abinine Ben Ali in Tunisia and Muammar Qaddafi in Libya. Probably true [bold mine-DL].

This isn’t “probably true.” It is an argument concocted by people desperate to vindicate one of the most failed policy agendas of recent memory by linking completely unrelated later events to the decision to invade Iraq. One could much more easily make the case that the invasion of Iraq reinforced the political status quo almost everywhere else in the region. The chaos and bloodshed of post-invasion Iraq provided authoritarian rulers everywhere with a useful cautionary tale of what would happen to their countries if they experienced sudden political change. The invasion inspired fear of regime change in the region and it associated ideas of liberalization and democratization with the ruin of an entire country. One can question whether the “Arab Spring” is quite what enthusiastic observers imagined a year ago, but there is no question that the decision to invade Iraq had nothing to do with its beginnings.