Iraq's plight is neither a coalition responsibility nor a particular danger to the West....
I cheer the goal of a "free and democratic Iraq," but the time has come to acknowledge that the coalition's achievement will be limited to destroying tyranny, not sponsoring its replacement. There is nothing ignoble about this limited achievement, which remains a landmark of international sanitation. It would be especially unfortunate if aiming too high spoils that attainment and thereby renders future interventions less likely. The benefits of eliminating Saddam's rule must not be forgotten in the distress of not creating a successful new Iraq.
Fixing Iraq is neither the coalition's responsibility nor its burden. The damage done by Saddam will take many years to repair. Americans, Britons, and others cannot be tasked with resolving Sunni-Shiite differences, an abiding Iraqi problem that only Iraqis themselves can address. (emphasis added)
Yes, it would be a shame if we learned from our mistakes and in the future avoided intervening in countries whose societies we don't fully (or nearly) understand on the basis of faulty intelligence. A real shame.
Meanwhile, for those of us in the non-peyote-based community, it's simply morally unserious to suggest that the U.S. has no responsibility for the upheaval in Iraq. The idea that we should be able to pop in, knock off the government, and leave brutalized populations to pick up the pieces without even an "'Ow's your father?" is just daft (ladies and gentlemen, I give you Daniel Pipes). While Sunni-Shia differences may be "abiding," in Iraq, the violence we're seeing now, the explosion of Shia resentment which festered under Saddam's rule, is a direct result of the Bush Gang's post-war indifference and incompetence, which left a security void that Shia militias, ex-Baathists and al Qaedists were all too willing to fill.
It's equally unserious to suggest that the situation in Iraq now, with Islamist militants moving freely in and out of the country, a looming sectarian civil war, and a professed Khomeinist ready to play king-maker if not king, is much preferable to a relatively stable dictatorial regime, however disgusting, or that the former is "not a particular danger to the West." At least that's what the head of Shin Bet says.
And no, I don't wish that Saddam were still in power. What I wish is that the Bush Gang had spent a fraction as much energy managing the reconstruction of Iraq as they have managing public perception of it here at home.
On the other hand, maybe Pipes needs to put in a call to Vic Hanson, who will tell him (probably with many, many references to the Peloponnesian War) that contrary to what his lying eyes are telling him, things are really going swell in Iraq.