It was 2003 and Bush had declared " Mission Accomplished", but it was only the beginning of a new phase in the war in Iraq and many more American soldiers and thousands of Iraqis will die.
The cocky Americans, under Paul Bremer rushed to get rid of the Baathists. It was a huge blunder. Over 250,000 soldiers and officers were suddenly unemployed, and all those in other areas of government with any connection to the former regime of Saddam were also dismissed. Anger and frustration turned deadly as they joined the rapidly growing and violent insurrection and 12 years on, it is full blown. And now they form the military and intelligence leadership that is driving ISIL (this was clearly shown in April, when it was reported that Izzat Ibrahim al -Douri, the so-called King of Clubs ( remember the deck of cards listing the most wanted members of Saddam's inner circle), and Saddam's right-hand man, was killed in a battle. It was reported that he led a militia that helped ISIL make their greatest gains in 2014. Many other high-ranking officers of Saddam's Revolutionary Guard, both military and intelligence are working closely on the battle fields and among the people, especially the Sunni tribes. They plan the strategy for military action and they advise on how to cultivate and recruit among the people, playing on their hatred of the American-backed Shia government in Baghdad, which had alienated and discriminated against them.
These former military and intelligence officers, battle-hardened and bitter, together with the ISIL foot soldiers, foreign and domestic, are armed to the teeth with weapons mostly taken from stockpiles and from fleeing Iraqi soldiers, are marching gradually to Baghdad, having already established a strong foothold in Anbar province. They have also used money from the sale of oil and artifacts to fill their coffers.
This alliance is growing and with the Iraqi army, not willing to stand and fight and with the American-led bombing proving to be insufficient, it is inevitable that this fight ( which is more and more becoming a sectarian one between sworn enemies Shia and Sunna), will further divide the region, sucking in other countries , from Turkey to Jordan to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States against Iran, Syria and Lebanon/Hizballah.
It was 2003 and Saddam is gone. A "hornet's nest" ( as I called it 12 years ago) has been created in the vacuum. Iraq is centrally located, and is easily accessible for jihadists, from the Middle East and elsewhere ( young recruits from Europe and as far away as Americas are wending their way there). When Gadhaffi was toppled and killed by the American led coalition, another "hornet's nest' was created, and this in Africa, and Egypt, Somalia, Yemen, Nigeria etc are now under attack.
Once upon a time the "strongmen" dominated these countries, using violence and subterfuge to control and restrain their restive population. Their tactics were brutal and they created a "time bomb" and then G.W. Bush and his coterie of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz et al lit the fuse and blew everything asunder.
It will be long and bloody and a threat to the stability of the larger world, which will not stand idly, looking on.