Since then, a lot of people have stated very firmly that it was obviously a criminally stupid attempt at an undoable task. And that if I'd been paying attention, I'd have known it.
Now, I've read this by Ayub Nuri, an Iraqi fixer (translator/assistant to a Western reporter) who's since become a reporter himself.
During previous wars, I had hidden in basements with my family, but I would witness this conflict as a journalist. I entered cities as they fell. I saw hungry and barefooted Iraqi soldiers walking on roadsides. They had thrown away their weapons and uniforms. In Kirkuk, people were dancing in the streets, waving banners that read "Thanks, Mr. Bush." I saw tears of joy in their eyes.
Quite a lot of Iraqis really did think that an American invasion would make things much better. They were wrong, but it suggests that the ancient hatreds were much less the issue than an incompetently handled occupation.
Admittedly, I was in a better position to know the US government was being run by a bunch of malign fools than the Iraqis were, but it wasn't quite as obvious back then. And I still don't know how much Iran is stirring the pot.
Predicting the future is a fun hobby and we have to at least try to do it in the course of running our lives, but a lot of the future is the result of information you haven't got and decisions which haven't been made yet.