And as we prepare to help Iraq retake that territory and re-defeat al Qaeda, don't forget that the war against Saddam's henchmen is not over:
Today, some of the top army commanders and Iraqi Mukhabarat or intelligence officials who enforced that system are now in the top rungs of the Islamic State (IS) leadership.
They still want to run Iraq. As they did early in the Iraq War (to their regret a few years later), they've decided to leverage jihadis to regain power and helped that ISIL takeover.
The Baathists are still helping ISIL. Which is another reason why I was so upset that one of our generals wrongly stated that there are 20 million Sunni Arabs in Iraq (see the update).
A lot of those Sunni Arabs justified Saddam's rule from their equally wrong belief that they represent a majority of Iraqis (see the first update) rather than a minority of 15-20%.
These guys once ruled through terror and the blood of their enemies. They'll do it again if we fail.