Let me clarify a couple of points, as I sounded surprisingly antiwar. Based on the information we had at the time, it was the right thing to do. In hindsight, it was not the best strategery, and it probably been better had we not gone there. I honestly don't know what the best strategy would have been, as the logical discussion on the attack was lost in political demagoguery and maneuvering by both sides. This is why politics and war should never mix.
In hindsight, I wish we hadn't moved the war to Iraq in the first place. From the fact that the info we were acting on turning out to be inaccurate to the failure of the administration to change tactics sooner, the Iraq theater has been less successful over the years than it could have been. And at this point, either the Iraqis are going to get it, or they won't. I agree that the time to get out is nearer, and we should do so as quickly as it is militarily feasible.
Once we were in there, our presence inevitably disrupted the power structure of the country. This gave Al Qaeda, which had a minimal presence in Iraq, a reason to rush it and start a lot more shit. Add to that a tendency to stay the course rather than reevaluating the strategy, an increasingly radical bunch of antiwar doof-o-matics here at home, and an enemy we are still not fully prepared to win against, and the war was bound to drag out.
As best as I can tell, the troop surge has been successful and has created the envelope for Iraqis to stabilize their country. Now that this has been done, we are at the point where we need to begin pulling back. The time has come for the Iraqis to stand on their own. But our withdrawal cannot be abrupt, complete, or politically driven. We must trust our military leaders to establish their own plans and timetables to get out, with a measure of victory and with structures in place to keep Iraq stable. And I am fully expecting we will probably maintain a base somewhere in Iraq. I would put it in the desert, far from civilization, near the border of Kuwait, and within pissing distance of Iran.
The dangers of this kind of nation building is that it relies on the sense of people we're trying to help. But the leaders meeting with people who support terror tells me the Iraq situation may be lost in the long term. So once our current mission there is complete, we need to move on to the next front in the war.