A reader writes:

This was a very good post. I would urge though, while grieving for all that went wrong in Iraq, and all the needless loss of life, to not give up hoping, and keeping others hoping and working, for a decent outcome there.

The Arab world is not Iran. It lacks the natural political dynamism of Persia. That is why a popular revolution there is so hard. And when you empower autocrats with oil, it becomes nearly impossible. We will see this in Iran as well. Oil-funded autocracies are the worst. But now that we have paid this huge price to open a political space in the heart of the Arab world, in Iraq, it is hugely important, for all the reasons you cited in your post, that something decent emerge there.

Why? Because if something reasonably decent and democratizing can emerge in Iraq -- and have the resources of that oil state -- and something decent and democratizing can emerge in Iran -- and have the resources of that oil state -- it will fundamentally tip the whole Arab-Muslim world. Instead of oil funding the worst Sunni Arab dictator and the worst Shiite theocrats, oil -- for the first time in the modern history of the Middle East -- will funding reasonably decent, freely-elected, modernizers in Iraq and Iran.

It would turn that world upside down. As you said: Know hope.

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