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Among the remarkable facts about Ahmed Chalabi was that after turning Iraq and America upside down and unleashing all the gods and devils of war, he died of natural causes in Baghdad this week. Few people have changed the course of the last few decades more, through the force of personality, than did Chalabi. Historians will argue the causes and consequences of the Iraq War, but my own guess is that if it hadn't been for Chalabi, Saddam Hussein or one of his odious sons or henchmen would probably be ruling Iraq today.Chalabi could be uncommonly generous with his time and brilliance, but he had complicated personal agendas too, which were sometimes well-disguised.My own mistakes in supporting the Iraq invasion, summarized in a 2013 column, cannot be explained by Chalabi or his weapons of mass destruction propaganda.Chalabi, like his Iranian friends, played a long game in Iraq. The CIA got many things wrong about Iraq, but it had Chalabi right early on.
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