The volatile cultural divisions and blowback inevitabilities that the Bush administration ignored on its march to war have pushed Iraq to the edge of civil war. Much of Iraq’s Sunni population supports the insurgency, the Shi‘ite militia movement is growing and increasingly deadly, and Iraq has become a magnet for foreign terrorists. Ironically, in the 1950s, the CIA invented the term blowback as a marker for the ricochet effect of its covert actions. Since then the term has come to signify the backlash and other unintended consequences of intervening in foreign countries.
For three years the U.S. has coped with a blowback nightmare in Iraq; now it is teetering on the edge of something even worse. Meanwhile the architects of the war still want to attack Iran and Syria, but find themselves enmeshed in the grim consequences of invading Iraq.