Forgive me for asking what may seem, at first, to be a stupid question: why is there fighting going on in Iraq right now? I ask because, for the most part, there wasn’t such fighting going on when Saddam was around. Sure, there were rebellions in Saddam’s day, and they were handled ruthlessly. So perhaps the answer is that Saddam was ruthless…. but that’s not a complete answer because history is replete with ruthless dictators who nevertheless had to deal with widespread rebellion. Help by outside agents – the Iranians or Al Qaeda – shouldn’t be any more of a factor now than six or seven years ago. The Iranians didn’t magically become 60% of the population, nor was Iran transported from somewhere else to Iraq’s borders upon the US invasion. Similarly, Al Qaeda, as an organization, is not a fan club for secular thugs like Saddam, whom they view as an apostate. (Apostasy in Islam, as in most religions, is about as unforgivable a sin as you can find.)
All I can think of is this… back in the early days of the invasion, when nothing was done to maintain law and order, when Don Rumsfeld was encouraged to see Iraqis enjoying their freedoms by looting and pillaging, the genie was let out of the bottle. And once you let the genie out of the bottle, its tough to put back in.