Another quick thought about Iraq. Many on the left insist the problem with Iraq is that you can’t win colonial wars – hence, Iraq was always destined to be a quagmire. But what’s the difference between a colonial war and one country taking over another country? Why was the German takeover of Poland not a colonial war, why was that successful (and would have been in the long run, barring outside interference)? Or the US takeover of Panama (both of them)? Or any number of other examples? And why was Saddam able to hold Iraq and keep the borders secure, but the US isn’t able to do it?
My guess… simplistic… is that its easier to keep order than to regain it. Lose control once and its hard to get it back. I think Iraq was lost in the early days, when the administration showed no interest in keeping order (except at the oil ministry). I think they still had a chance, had they managed to get every Iraqi working. (Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.) Even in Afghanistan, the administration didn’t screw up quite this badly – they maintained some semblance of order, if only by giving power to a bunch of bloodthirsty warlords, drug dealers, and religious fanatics. In Iraq, the US military took over, and then our leaders decided it was a good idea to step aside and let the whirlwind begin.