But the spoils of victory aren't going to last.
______________________________________________________And yet, despite these (and many similar) statements, it's worth pointing out that one of the grim ironies of the Iraq War was this: no country, with the possible exception of Iran, benefited more from it than China. Before we begin, it's worth acknowledging that there's something more than a little gauche about declaring a "winner" in the Iraq War, which, as our James Fallows writes, surely ranks as one of the greatest strategic blunders in American history. For the United States, the Iraq War led to the death of almost 4,500 soldiers and injury of 30,000 others, cost over $1 trillion, and failed to establish a thriving, capitalist democracy in the country. For the Iraqi people, the costs have been far higher: over 100,000 civilians lost their lives during the conflict, and over 2 million others sought refuge in other countries. Put simply, then, China won the battle by choosing not to fight it. But this isn't quite the whole story. In addition to avoiding the grave costs of the war, China capitalized by offering developing countries an attractive alternative to the United States: ideologically-blind economic engagement. And, as a result, Beijing was able to expand its "soft power" at the expense of an increasingly unpopular Washington.