As Iraq’s prime minister visits Washington, BBC North America Bureaux Chief Paul Danahar, who was based in Baghdad during the US-led invasion, says the country America left behind is broken, and Middle Eastern strong men are flexing their muscles.
Only people with no long-term vested interest in the well-being of the subjects of a state could have conjured up Iraq.
Neither the country nor the political power structures within it would have naturally come about without the intervention of foreigners.
The Arab nationalism of Saddam Hussein’s Baathism was a reaction to the selfish audacity of colonial rule.
The above is also broadly true in Syria. Neither country now necessarily has a future within its present borders.
But it is clear that their people’s futures, after the revolts of the Arab Spring, are increasingly intertwined.
Even if recreating that experience was never America’s intention, that’s how the occupation was felt.
Both powers built sectarianism into the politics of Iraq – the British in overseeing the creation of the country and the Americans in the creation of the political structures they left behind.
Sectarian tensions in both Syria and Iraq are tearing at the fabric of already fragile societies.
The violence of the civil war in Syria has impacted on Iraq, which has impacted on Syria and the cycle goes on.
No-one knows how to stop it.
More importantly no-one wants to stop it, if that means getting involved themselves. Those that could make a difference have tried something similar in the past. They failed, and it cost them dear.
“My friend, if you think we’re going to spend a billion dollars of our money over there, you are sadly mistaken.”
The “over there” was Iraq. The man convinced, just weeks before the 2003 US-led invasion, that Iraq was not going to be a drain on American finances, was then-Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Ten years on, a study by Brown University concluded that the war cost the United States $2.2 trillion (£1.4 trillion).
Despite the blood and treasure America spent in Iraq it now has very little influence there, and Iraq is in almost as much of a mess now as it was at the height of the civil war that raged through most of the country.