A reader writes:

You wrote:

We invaded to liberate, not to control.

Yet, we wanted Iraq to be a part of our sphere of influence in the Middle East, an outcome that could only happen if we had a compliant regime in Baghdad. So we were hoping that we could ‘liberate’ Iraq, and promote fair elections to create a new government that would be a military and economic ally of the United States.

The breakdowns in this logic were the assumptions that (1) the inevitable Shiite government would be able to control the seething sectarian tensions that had been building for years, and (2) that the Shiite government would be concerned about US long-term interests. The result: Yes, we have influence in Iraq and even cooperation from the Iraqi government, but these results are due to the presence of the US military.

Yes it is ‘empire’, not the 19th-century form of empire with a docile populace in awe of modernity; rather it’s a 21st-century form of empire where the internet reveals to all the devil’s bargain we have made with the Iraqi government.

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