I have no objection to helping Iraq, that’s just neighborly. But it is to me always a higher priority to look out for the long term interests of the USA. While there are many strategic advantages to helping reconstruct Iraq, in this post I’m just going to bring up one and that is increasing the fragility of anti-American totalitarian governments.
How does that work? Even now, other nations next to Iraq can see what happens to regimes overturned and conquered by the Americans. The US takes over and then debates on how much money to spend on the conquered. What other nation does that? Isn’t the standard debate on how much money to take out of the occupied country? And of course there is no serious voice (or even unserious) advocating the permanent occupation of Iraq. Some (such as me) talk of keeping bases there for decades to promote American interests. But this isn’t such a big deal because
The upshot of all this is that populations in countries with dictatorial, anti-American regimes have a much reduced fear of the results of a US invasion. That removes a lot of the national solidarity the regime counts on for preserving itself. The Iraqi civilian population put up effectively no resistance to the Americans and what was their fate? Some disruption and chaos but five years down the road? Much better than still being ruled by the previous regime. Significant civilian resistance is a key linchpin of such a regimes resistance to a US invasion, because their military isn’t going to do much to slow down the Americans. If that’s taken away or strongly reduced it makes the regime’s position much shakier. And that is a worthwhile foreign policy goal.