Fareed Zakaria, host of Global Public Square on CNN, hosted the one hour documentary “Long Road to Hell: America in Iraq” Monday October 26, 2015, link here .
Zakarai started out recapitulating 9/11, and saying that on that very evening, President Bush and his advisers (Cheney at another location) had a meeting in the White House bunker deciding to go after Saddam Hussein, believing Hussein could be involved in 9/11 (when already it was apparent that Osama bin Laden was responsible, as CBS had reported that morning on its “What We Saw” (a DVD of 9/11) even before noon.
At a riveting presentation by Colin Powell in February 2003, supposed evidence of Saddam’s likely development of weapons of mass destruction was presented. (Bush used the word "mushroom cloud" in a public speech at least once.) The US began its “shock and awe” in March 2003 (televised at the Byrant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis right after an IPF meeting, when I was there to watch) and Saddam was deposed in April and eventually captured and executed by the new government.
The War in Iraq became protracted, with multiple tours of duty as part of a “Stop-Loss” policy, itself the subject of a major movie in 2008. It even got into soap operas. It led to some scandals like Abu-Ghraib.
Yet, we never found evidence that Saddam really had WMD's (there was one report around 2006 that eventually got suppressed where Marines did report finding some sort of cache near the coast). Why was Saddam willing to let us believe it? Saddam was indeed a villain but not the right suspect. Zakaria admits that in the early days he supported the war and was somewhat fooled by the appearances rather than hard facts.
But after the US withdrew under Obama, the government and military of Iraq quickly weakened, resulting in overrunning of northern parts of the country by ISIS (including Mosul, where a Christian relative of a past coworker of mine lived -- one degree of separation), which Zakaria called the most dangerous and ruthless gang of thugs in history.
The US did put together a good team of contractors to provide security in Iraq, even involving other Arab “allies” like Saudi Arabia, but this fell apart after the US left.
Now Donald Trump says he wants to put "boots on the ground" in Iraq again to fight ISIS.