Former USSOCOM Commander and DIA Director, MG (Ret) Michael Flynn spoke about the invasion of Iraq and the rise of ISIS with Der Speigel:
SPIEGEL ONLINE: In February 2004, you already had Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in your hands — he was imprisoned in in a military camp, but got cleared later as harmless by a US military commission. How could that fatal mistake happen?
Flynn: We were too dumb. We didn’t understand who we had there at that moment. When 9/11 occurred, all the emotions took over, and our response was, “Where did those bastards come from? Let’s go kill them. Let’s go get them.” Instead of asking why they attacked us, we asked where they came from. Then we strategically marched in the wrong direction.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: The US invaded Iraq even though Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11.
Flynn: First we went to Afghanistan, where al-Qaida was based. Then we went into Iraq. Instead of asking ourselves why the phenomenon of terror occurred, we were looking for locations. This is a major lesson we must learn in order not to make the same mistakes again.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: The Islamic State wouldn’t be where it is now without the fall of Baghdad. Do you regret …
Flynn: … yes, absolutely …
SPIEGEL ONLINE: … the Iraq war?
Flynn: It was huge error. As brutal as Saddam Hussein was, it was a mistake to just eliminate him. The same is true for Moammar Gadhafi and for Libya, which is now a failed state. The historic lesson is that it was a strategic failure to go into Iraq. History will not be and should not be kind with that decision.
Bolding mine. Even though he waited until comfortably retired, it’s refreshing to see a notable luminary of the military and intelligence communities speaking about what I’ve been saying for years.