1. By starting a war in Iraq, we are drawing terrorists there to fight instead of having to go hunt them down. (an example of this argument, in case anyone thinks there aren't idiots who actually hold this position)
2. We can't leave Iraq until we have established security there. If we leave it as it is, it will be a dangerous failed state. (the idiots arguing this position publicly are well known and include both major party candidates)
I don't buy either of these arguments. It should be obvious that we can't simulataneously be encouraging violence in Iraq and discouraging violence in Iraq. If this is indeed our policy, then no wonder the US is in a quagmire.
I don't accept argument 1 by itself. There are plenty of terrorists in the world, enough to ruin both Iraq and to cause mayhem anywhere else they choose. The amount of terrorism in the world has not decreased since the US invaded Iraq, it has increased to a 20 year high.
Argument 2 is more seductive. We broke it, we buy it. We made the mess, we clean it up. But we are the bull in the china shop; giving the bull a broom and dust pan is only asking for more breakage. I am reminded of a True Story of my daughter being Very Helpful once. She dropped a pitcher of tea on the floor, while I was in another room. She hollered out that she would clean it up and for me not to worry about what had just happened. Half an hour later, I go into the dining room, and she is on her knees, near tears, intently sponging the tea up off the floor and wringing the spong out---back onto the floor, wondering why the mess wasn't getting any smaller. Now, she was just a child so it was understandable that she could neglect the important role of the bucket, but the US is not a child. Yet we are also confronted with a mess of our own making that we do not know how to clean up. We say we have to stay in Iraq so the Iraqis can be free, but that betrays our lack of understanding regarding this particular mess.
Freedom is not a gift. It is a prize that you win and defend. The Iraqis aren't free because they have not won the prize of freedom. How to win it is something they have to work out amongst themselves. We can cheer them on, we can stand them back up after they have fallen down in the fight, but we can't actually do the fighting for them. The US removed Saddam Hussein, but doing that did not free the Iraqis, because then we were there, taking up the same space in Iraq that Saddam had, a space that we had not been given by the Iraqi people.
A wise man once wrote that government rests upon the consent of the governed, and a lot of other wise men then signed their names to that sentiment. Take a look at that liberal document and really read it. See how no where in it does it suggest that an outside power do for a people what the people will not do for themselves? Why, it even points out that people will put up with a lot of abuse before they will rise up to challenge "the forms to which they are accustomed."
Some might argue that France did help the United States in its fight for independence. That does not change the truth that the fight belonged to the American people first, last, and always. And what was the reward of France anyway for its assistance? Eternal gratitude? Cushy economic opportunities? A strong hand in fashioning the post-war government? Hell, no. The Treaty of Paris of 1783 completely cut the French out, leaving them with nothing but their depleted treasury for all their efforts and their own revolution, far bloodier and unstable, looming on the horizon.