Kudos to Phil
for rogering up. I almost don't want to respond to you though because it feels like throwing pearls before swine (sorry for calling you swine, its a bible thing). People with your viewpoint are essentially unreachable to people with my viewpoint, but here it goes.
1) The conflict: As I said before, we have had this problem since 1979 in its current incarnation. Remember all the Delta Force movies with Chuck Norris in the 1980s? Those guys were islamic terrorists he was beating up. We are engaged in the middle east because our economy depends on oil. That is no secret and it is not likely to change any time soon. They hate us because they live in a primitive, racist, sexist, misogynist culture, and we don't. They hate us because their religious leaders have successfully promoted the idea that in lieu of converting infidels they should be killed particularly when infidel interests and culture intersect with their own. There you have it. We need to have oil, they need to remain primitive and barbaric. Yes, Phil this is a simplified version of a very nuanced situation, but us neanderthals don't do nuance too well, nor are we overly concerned about what is essentially water under the bridge. The battle has been joined.
2) Iraq: We sold Saddam weapons to fight Iran, blah, blah, blah. Maybe we did, maybe we didn't. Who cares? The enemy of my enemy is my friend. He threatened our economy in 1991 so we put together some like minded nations and ran him out. He had already used WMD against Iran at that point, and we did find big time stockpiles and manufacturing facilities then. He signed some treaties, violated every single one, shot at our pilots every day, committed a genocide against the Shia, gassed the Kurds, openly collaborated with terrorists including Al Qaeda, promoted palestinian suicide bombing, brutally oppressed dissent, torture, executions, assassination attempt on US pres, assisted bin Laden with WMD R&D in Sudan, created an environmental disaster in the Gulf, there is much more and all that before 9/11. Saddam by all accounts is a sworn enemy of the US with goals analagous to Al Qaeda, and his actions suggested that he had continued his WMD programs (kicking out inspectors 1998, refusing to allow them back in 2002, and generally suspicious dictator behavior). Saddam retained his WMD production capability which has been demonstrated by ISG. Chances are, the WMD stockpiles are either buried in the desert or sitting in Syria or Lebanon or both.
3) 9/11: Changed the world in a few short hours, changed the rules of the game, changed the entire idea of deterrence as a viable option to defend against a "new" threat. MAD no longer can be trusted, pre-emption remains the only sure way to prevent follow on missions against the homeland. I do believe that Iraq was involved with 9/11 in some capacity and there is plenty of circumstantial evidence to support that, but no smoking gun. By the way, I don't need a smoking gun anymore, and neither should you. I liken our situation to your first day in jail; you are either going to become somebody's bitch or somebody is going to be your bitch. I'm not prepared to be a bitch, and neither is the American public. We have a good thing going here and we want to keep it. I have traveled all over the planet, and I can tell you that nowhere is it like here and we need to be thankful for that. The psychology in the third world is just like a prison. The weak are exploited and the strong flourish, only in the US is there equality.
4) Bush's decision: Just like the Man says, "Trust a madman or protect the American people?" There was hardly a credible intelligence source on the planet that said Iraq had no WMD, because they did. How could Bush sit on all of that reporting and Saddam's actions in light of the monstrous threat to our homeland? I couldn't do it. Nobody in his position could ignore that threat. You cannot deter people that WANT to die during their attack on you, you have to destroy them and take away their weapons. Bush's freedom plan for the middle east is extremely ambitious, no doubt about it. But it is the cultural conflict and the economic need that must be reconciled. If he is right and the scent of freedom is attractive enough, then a long overdue islamic reformation could be in the offing. If he is wrong, at least we are protecting our interests in the region and giving the barbaric hoardes somewhere else to go than the US. We need to remain engaged with our enemies in combat somewhere. Afghanistan is elusive, Iraq is a more conventional venue for us to kill them. We are definitely going to be spending years slaughtering these people, maybe even decades. If they refuse to change their primitive culture, then they will never stop trying to change ours. Somebody's culture is going down, let it be theirs I say.
5) Allies: We have great allies in Iraq. The French/German/UN connection does not want the US to succeed. They want our position in the world or something similar. All the perks with none of the responsibilities. They profitted mightily from Saddam, and we should never have expected their support. The Chinese definitely want us to be taken down as they see themselves as the economic/military heir to the US. The Russians are only now discovering how badly the the Soviets ran their nation into the ground and are struggling against pride and reality to find their role. They also have a nasty terror problem.
6) Options: Turn Iraq over to the UN/EU?-not going to happen everybody knows this. Leave Iraq and let the chips fall?-we owe them more than that at the very least. Also, it would be a massive defeat in the GWOT that we might never recover from. The only real option is to keep on keepin' on. We must defeat the terrorists there. The Iranians are watching, the North Koreans are watching, Al Qaeda is watching. All three of these threats become much greater once our defeat in Iraq occurs. This is not Vietnam, we can't just slink back home and hide behind our nukes. Our nukes can't protect us anymore. We have to finish the job and do so with authority. We need to expand our harem of bitches or we'll be somebody's bitch before too long. Speaking of bitches, we hauled in Libya (including a nuclear program nobody knew about). Others will follow or meet the same fate if we hang tough in Iraq. Will we need a draft? Maybe. If we thought that drafting people for WWII and Korea was OK, it ought to be OK for the GWOT. I hope that it doesn't come to that, but you never say never. How much do you want to spend? How much is your life worth to you? I don't care what it costs. We spent a higher % of GDP on defense in the 80s.
Well there you have it, Phil. You are probably having a seizure right now after actually reading this, but don't worry, it will pass, try not to bite your tongue though. We'll keep defending you from the barbarians whether you like it or not. So curl up with some Noam Chomsky and a soy, half whip, extra hot, grande latte and go back to your happy place. Froggy OUT