From a reader:
The Iraq war was not a mistake. It is easy to forget in the spectacle of watching the Iraqis butcher each other trying to build a stable government, but much was accomplished with this war: 1. The toppling of a regime that was a constant threat to its neighbors and, potentially at least, to us. 2. Removing the Iraqi threat allowed us to move our troops out of Saudi Arabia. The US presence in the Kingdom was the #1 motivator for Bin Ladenism, and the long term benefits this will have after Iraq are hard to calculate but will no doubt be significant. 3. Worst possible case scenario, we retreat to Kurdistan. No matter what happens in Greater Iraq, the liberation of the Kurds and the implantation of a nascent democracy there is a genuine success. 4. Also in the worst case scenario, we retreat not only to Kurdistan, but also to Kuwait. The virtual military encirclement of Iran will remain, and that is important. An encircled Iran, even with a nuke, is a far different scenario than the opposite. Iraq is not Vietnam redux, it is more like Korea: a defective outcome, but one that can be made into lemonade if we just keep our wits about us.
And: from another reader:
It suggests that the enemy’s willingness to fight is our fault; But we don’t condemn our criminal laws when criminals fight back, we don’t condemn police when criminals develop new tactics, we don’t condemn the auto industry when people speed, and liberals don’t condemn gun control when it costs them votes.
Sailors ignoring storm warnings would be a mistake, miners not shoring up mine shafts is another mistake.
Fighting Baathists, Al-Q, Iran and Syria is not a mistake. Expanding democracy to the Arab world is the only strategy available. Fighting the war badly, however, is a mistake