A reader writes:
I have come to view the Iraq occupation in terms of post Civil-War Reconstruction.
When the North ended its occupation of the former Confederacy, it arguably left something as bad as--or possibly worse than--the slavery it had deposed in the Civil War...the Jim Crow South. Possibly worse because it was built on a lie, the political lie that the black man was free and equal to his former white masters, while slavery was at least open and honest about the status of the black in society.
The North could have stayed until the South was ready to really live up to the words of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments ... but that might have taken most of a century to achieve, a century in which the natives of the old Confederacy would have festered a deep resentment of their occupiers, as any occupied people will--while the North grew to resent the money and manpower required to control a restive South.
I think the analogy to Iraq is clear. Staying or going is harmful to the US as a nation. The question is which is worse. I think staying is worse, because it gives no chance for the people of Iraq to work out their own solutions.