Readers have offered their own take on why we can afford to allow an Islamist terror state emerge in Gaza but not in Iraq:
The glaring difference is, we created this problem in Iraq but we did not create the problem in Gaza. By irresponsibly removing Saddam we let loose violent factions. Certainly we have some responsibility to the people of Iraq.
Er, yes. But that logic means that the occupation of Iraq is completely self-perpetuating: The worse things get the more we are obliged to stay. And the longer we stay the worse things get. Wonderful, no? Being trapped in Iraq, moreover, has clearly prevented us from tackling Iran with any traction. One argument commonly made for staying in Iraq makes no sense to me at all. It's McCain's "if we leave, they will follow us home." But if we stay, they can follow us home as well. And by staying, we have clearly created more of them to follow us. The second argument that fails to convince is that by leaving, we give al Qaeda a propaganda coup. Yes, we would, and it would be intellectually dishonest to deny that. Any argument for withdrawal needs to take that into account. But by staying and losing, we also give al Qaeda a propaganda coup. And by constantly giving al Qaeda an anti-imperial narrative, we also prevent Muslims and Arabs from recognizing them for what they are: not anti-imperial liberators but theo-fascists.
It's becoming clearer and clearer to me that if we want to win this long war, we have to leave Iraq. Sooner rather than later.