A reader writes what others may be thinking:
Over the last few years, I've basically shared your view of the Iraq war: a noble endeavor, woefully implemented by the Bush Administration. I admire your ability to acknowledge bad news without resorting to hysterics and undue pessimism. You are actually one of the least "unhinged" bloggers out there which is why I come to your site daily.
Personally, though, I've lost faith. After more than 3 years, we've completely failed to turn Iraq into anything remotely resembling a stable, prosperous, liberal democracy. I was never expecting Iraq to become New Zealand, but was at least hoping for Morocco.
What's more, I don't think we're ever going to succeed, regardless of how long we stay. And yes, you may be right that things would be much better now if we'd had more troops, planned for the post-war, ginned-up more international help. That's the sad feeling I got from reading Cobra II. Still, I'm not completely convinced that even if we'd done everything flawlessly we could have so completely transformed Iraqi society.
It is true that Arabs are not incapable of democracy, and that such claims are border on racist. However, the suspicion that Iraqis were unlikely to establish a reasonably liberal civil society was not so unwarranted. I feel naïve for absorbing the idealistic, end-of-history notion that we human are all universally alike, just yearning for some freedom. The people of the middle east are not just a bunch of good folks oppressed by brutal dictators. They are ridden with some very deep pathologies. We kid ourselves by thinking that they're just like us - only with a Saddam, or an Assad, or an Ahmadinejad
It's obvious that liberals in the middle east are woefully outnumbered. And, no amount of pushing from the outside - whether new TV channels or regime changes are going to strengthen their numbers. I'm starting to think that those societies deserve the consequences of their ideologies.
Our presence in Iraq is simply not capable of thoroughly changing the dynamic. We're now just one actor in a stew of nefarious factions. The best and brightest Iraqis are all leaving, or have already left, while radical jihadists continue to stream in. We keep thinking we're about to turn a corner; that things will improve once: Bremer takes over, Saddam is captured, the Governing Council takes over, elections are held, the permanent government is formed - take your pick. All the Iraqi blogs that were so enthusiastic three years ago, have either gone or turned sour.
If we get out, thing may very well get worse. But would that be so bad? Would it be such a bad thing for the U.S. strategically for a Baathist/Sunni Jihadist/al-Qaeda side and a Sadrist/Shia fundamentalist/Iranian side to annihilate one another?
Maybe I'm morphing into a Kissingerian gargoyle, but this kind of approach doesn't sound so bad anymore.