03/21/2013 12:29 pm ET Updated May 21, 2013

Triste Anniversaire

As I wrote in the introduction to my most recent book, "La République de Dieu",

Though they both operate out of an Embassy, a profound difference in temperament distinguishes a diplomat from an intelligence officer. Whereas the former seeks to resolve problems by negotiation, which implies adopting a conciliatory attitude, and avoiding questions that are too conflictual, the latter's task is to put his hand into the open wound, like a modern Saint Thomas; in other words to describe and treat the world as it is, without embellishment and without concessions. This training and this experience explains my tendency to assess events without illusions and to describe them in a sometimes scathing manner, whatever may be the dominant conventional wisdom.

We reached this week the tenth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, and although there has been an embarrassed near-silence about the event in Washington, the fact is that nothing good has come out of this military adventure. Saddam Hussein didn't need to be deterred; he had already been deterred in the first Gulf War in 1990-1991. All that can be described as an outcome is that the ethnic positions were upended, with the Shiites replacing the Sunnis as the dominant group, a development that is still, and arguably increasingly, being contested by the Sunnis, in a series of violent attacks that are ongoing.

Unfortunately, we can only say that this was a useless war, conceived under the mistaken pretext that Saddam was in possession of weapons of mass destruction and resulting in untold sacrifices of dead and wounded on all sides.

Tell it like it is.