A civilian friend of mine messaged me on Facebook and pointed out that it was the 20th anniversary of Colin Powell's now-infamous "WMD in Iraq" speech. She asked me if I had any thoughts about the Iraq War and the intel angle. Below is how I responded. I'm interested in hearing your thoughts as well. I may turn this into an article, not sure yet.
Knowing what we knew at the time, a legit case could have been made (and IMO was made) that Iraq was trying to develop WMDs. Hussein had, and used, chem weapons in the past. There were examples of dual-use technical acquisition, and some of the initial reports seemed plausible. Also, Hussein wanted people, especially the Iranians, to think he had WMDs as a regime security measure. He assumed that the CIA would know he didn't have them. Which, of course, either they didn't, or they did know and wanted us to go into Iraq anyway.
In hindsight we know the intel was super-sketch and circular, and that much of the intel community came to the answer that they knew the Bush Administration (and many others outside of it) wanted. So going into Iraq, especially when we were already fighting Afghanistan, was a mistake. But we made things far, far worse, and perhaps ensured that we would never be able to win, by doing the following:
2) disbanding the Iraqi military
3) not adequately securing the borders with Syria and Iran, and
4) trying to turn a Middle Eastern dictatorship into a Western-style democratic state overnight.