20 Years of a Superpower’s Decline

The prophetic legacy of the war in Iraq

Capt. Doug Zembiec was called the “Lion of Fallujah” by his men. Fearless, compassionate and fierce, Zembiec epitomized combat leadership on the ground in Iraq. He exposed himself to enemy fire countless times to direct the battle or protect his men. In 2004, American marines were in the middle of a brutal urban struggle in the city of Fallujah. Operation Vigilant Resolve was a house-to-house battle in which the United States forces were searching and destroying insurgents. Zembiec died in 2007 while leading his team on a raid. Many brave men and women died during the Iraq War.


It has been 20 years since the U.S. invaded Iraq and removed Saddam Hussein’s regime. Now looking at the aftershocks of the past two decades, the bravery of the U.S. military is perhaps the only positive legacy from the war in Iraq.

The costs of this war were high. The conflict cost $2 trillion, which amounts to $8,000 per American. Around 170,000 American troops operated in the country over a 16-year period. Around 100,000 Iraqis died in the war, 5 million Iraqi children became orphans, and 4 million to 5 million people were displaced due to the war; 4,550 American service members and 3,793 military contractors died in the war; 31,994 Americans were wounded in action. Nearly $200 billion have been spent on health-care services for Iraq War veterans.

It has been hard to find a positive headline about this anniversary. News analysts mostly conclude that America lost. How is this possible? How could the U.S. superpower lose the war in Iraq? And who was the victor?

Even before President George W. Bush announced the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom on March 18, 2003, the Trumpet predicted that any American intervention in Iraq would fail. When the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled in Baghdad, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote that America would not win the war. Twenty years later, these predictions have come to pass. That is tomorrow’s news today.

How could the Trumpet know that America would fail and who the real winner of the war would be? Because we rely on the sure word of Bible prophecy.

What the Trumpet Wrote

Sept. 11, 2001, permanently changed America. Islamic terrorism had dealt a heavy blow to the world’s lone superpower. Americans were angry and wanted to hold those responsible accountable. Only one week later, the U.S. government authorized the invasion of Afghanistan to track down Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. As President Bush mulled over an invasion of Iraq, we wrote in the November 2002 Trumpet issue in an article titled “What President Bush Doesn’t Know”:

Whatever war efforts America undertakes in Iraq will prove shortly thereafter to have been spent in vain! Not necessarily because they were unjustified, or poorly planned, or incompetently executed—but because America is cursed! …

A major concern, should Iraq be taken out as a power in the Middle East, is the destabilizing of the region. If Saddam is removed with no clear, strong successor, Iran would come to the fore even more. Read what Mr. Flurry wrote eight years ago: “The most powerful Arab country in the Middle East is Iran. Can you imagine the power they would have if they gained control of Iraq, the second-largest oil producing country in the world? If so, there seems to be little doubt that Iran would lead the king of the south” (Trumpet, December 1994).

Thus, in its very attempt to neutralize the threat from the Middle East and stabilize the region, America will very likely help create and aggravate an even worse problem!

Since 1994, Mr. Flurry has prophesied that Iran would become “the king of the south” mentioned in Daniel 11. This prophecy forms the lens in which to view the Iraq War. Following the invasion and lightning success of America’s offensive, Mr. Flurry wrote in the June 2003 Trumpet article “Is Iraq About to Fall to Iran?”:

Now that Iraq has been taken out of the picture, Iran is even closer to becoming the reigning king of the Middle East. It may seem shocking, given the U.S. presence in the region right now, but prophecy indicates that, in pursuit of its goal, Iran will probably take over Iraq. At least, it will have a heavy influence over the Iraqi people. …

The Iraq campaign was the latest round in America’s global war on terrorism. But where did all of this world terrorism begin? Iraq is a dangerous part of the equation, but not the head of the snake. …

Saddam Hussein was the only leader that Iran feared. Now the U.S. has taken him out of the way. But does America have the will or strength to guard the spoils of war? Prophecy states that it does not.

Despite the “shock and awe” displayed by the American military and its footprint in the country, Mr. Flurry predicted Iran would be the winner of the Iraq War. This would mainly happen because America lacked the will to go after the head of the terrorist snake, Iran. This view that America lacked the willpower to use its military might is found in Leviticus 26: “And I will break the pride of your power …” (verse 19). America still has the power but is too faint of heart to use it. Verse 20 says: “And your strength shall be spent in vain ….” The military, economic and human resources would be spent in vain, without achieving victory. That same June 2003 Trumpet issue had another article “Weakness in Victory,” in which we wrote:

Is America now under this curse? It may seem almost silly to presume so. The victory in Iraq was impressive—powerful, efficient. A regime tumbled, and a dictator disappeared, in three quick weeks. In some ways, America today seems unprecedentedly strong, most particularly because it has a decisive president who is willing to stake his reputation on unpopular decisions he believes to be right. But there are significant aspects of the Iraq campaign and its aftermath that actually show how the nation has an alarmingly faint heart.

At the same time this Trumpet was published, President Bush gave his “Mission Accomplished” speech on May 1, 2003. Later that month, the Iraqi Army was disbanded, dispersing thousands of angry, trained men throughout the country. Soon after that, the insurgency war began against America’s occupation.

The war took place on two fronts: First, there were the Sunni insurgents in the countryside who resented the U.S. intervention and were made up of former members of the Iraqi Army. They were led by the terrorist Abu Mus’ab Zarqawi. Second, there were the Shiite insurgents based in the capital of Baghdad led by Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Sadr led sectarian death squads throughout the city and was supported by Iran, who supplied his militia with weapons and explosive devices that killed and maimed many Americans.

As Iraq descended into a civil war where both sides fought against America, Mr. Flurry wrote in the November 2003 Trumpet, in “Why We Cannot Win the War Against Terrorism”:

The only way to win such a war is to deal with the main source of the terrorism, or cut off the head of the terrorist snake. But neither the U.S. nor Israel has the will to tackle Iran—even though it is the key part of the “axis of evil” in the Middle East. …

However, we can’t win this war unless we also remove Iran’s leadership. But American and British leaders are overwhelmingly liberal. And the press is dangerously pacifist. Our peoples lack the will to win this war against terrorism. …

Superpowers cannot survive in this evil, warring world without the will to wage long, hard wars. This is the real world in which we live; fantasies won’t change that reality. …

We are fighting the terrorist war the way state-sponsored terrorists want to fight it—which means we can never win. They understand that they will win fighting the war their way. That is why they are waging this war of terror! Terrorist warfare would be a failure if we had the will to use our power against state-sponsored terrorism.

This strong warning went unheeded, and soon the broken will and half measures of the superpower were on display for everyone to see.

On March 31, 2004, four U.S. Blackwater contractors were taking a shortcut through Fallujah, the most dangerous city in Iraq, and drove into an ambush. Their two vehicles were riddled with bullet holes; most people died instantly. Survivors were beaten to death and stabbed by children and young men. Their bodies were then doused in gasoline and burned into black, charred husks. One body was dismembered and a leg was strung up from an electrical line. Two bodies were hung from a bridge. Children took their shoes and beat the charred bodies shouting insults in Arabic meaning “America has lost its nerve.” The U.S. military, watching the scene unfold from a drone, did nothing to intervene.


These scenes were broadcast around the world. The liberated Iraqis had just shamed the world superpower and mutilated American bodies. President Bush and the U.S. government were furious. The president ordered the marines to take Fallujah and punish those responsible for the raid. After three days of intense fighting in April, President Bush ordered a 24-hour ceasefire because of false reports from Al Jazeera of Americans committing war crimes. The battle ended in a negotiation. However, the insurgents got control of the city. The marines attacked again in September and took the city over a span of six weeks, costing many more American lives. The ring leader, Zarqawi, escaped and eventually established the Islamic State.

This video presents a timeline of the Iraq War:


The military might and courage of the troops was undermined by the weak will of the leadership time and again. Men like Doug Zembiec laid down their lives for their country, only to have their strength spent in vain.

This pattern happened over and again. Even the surge in 2007, led by Gen. David Petraeus, was a half measure that prevented an embarrassing collapse, but the Shiite and Sunni militants continue to exist to this day, taking on different iterations throughout the years. From the outset, Saddam’s removal placed Iraq on a political path to being dominated by Iran. Over the past 20 years, through all the suffering and instability, this remains true. The Iraq War was a case study on a superpower declining and Bible prophecy being fulfilled.

The Real Victor of the Iraq War

In 2019, the U.S. Army released an extensive study on the lessons from the Iraq War. Its conclusion: “[A]n emboldened and expansionist Iran appears to be the only victor.” This is the same conclusion the Trumpet predicted in 2002, over 20 years ago!

This 20-year anniversary is not a pleasant one. The war affected the world in a profound way. Yet its prophetic legacy is the most important. The Iraq War fulfilled Bible prophecies, both of America’s decline as a superpower and Iran’s rise as the king of the south. Iran’s belligerent rise is directly connected to the events that trigger the return of Jesus Christ. This is vital history and prophecy you need to know.

To help explain all of this is more detail, Mr. Flurry has just updated and expanded his booklet The King of the South. He has been right about Iran since 1994. Read this book to learn about more Bible prophecy soon to be fulfilled.