Tale of two wars: high costs of military adventures 

Russian President Vladimir Putin is certainly right on one issue: If the old Soviet Union still existed in 2003 and remained committed to protecting its Middle Eastern ally Iraq, the United States would probably not have invaded that country and ousted its leader, Saddam Hussein.

Indeed, the fact that the Soviet Union was on its last legs in 1990 may explain why it failed to use its eroding diplomatic and military power to press Baghdad and Washington to reach a deal that could have led to Saddam’s withdrawal from Kuwait and prevent the US armed campaign against Iraq.

Contrary to the American narrative and the rhetoric that depict US military interventions around the world in the post-World War II era as part of an effort to uphold the norms of the liberal international order, its use of armed force in Iraq and elsewhere mostly reflected its ability to advance its global interests cost-effectively. 

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