Since we invaded Iraq, somewhere between two hundred thousand and a half million Iraqis are dead, over four million are displaced. All the Iraqi Christians are now either dead or are refugees outside of Iraq. Iraq's infrastructure is destroyed and the country continues to live under a military occupation by 56,000 American troops and a like number of American mercenaries. The skies are are still patrolled by American helicopter gunships and aircraft and Iraqis cower in fear when they pass overhead.
And for all that, what has been accomplished politically? Well, the Sunnis, who had been nationalist, Ba'athists are now leaning towards fundamentalist Islamist groups like al Qaeda for protection from the ascendent Shiites.
And the Si'ites are now all aligned with Iran in one way or another. So we have made Iraq more unstable and more dangerous by leading the two groups of Iraqis to the two Islamic fundamentalist adversaries that we face in the world. If you remember, Saddam was not religious, and certainly was anti-Iranian. Things are considerably worse and potentially more dangerous than they were.
No real Republic has been formed. That is American hubris, only possible because of American myopia. The only thing that most Americans really understand or are capable of seeing is America. When Americans look out from our country, they do so with an American filter that makes it very hard for them to distinguish what they are seeing. They see American motivations where those don't exist. A western style Republic in Iraq can not possibly survive. Sooner or later the state mechanism will be usurped permanently by whoever is the current leadership and then there will be a violent pruning of any people or groups that threaten that leadership. What is even harder for Americans to understand is that the Iraqis WANT a strongman to take over. They see security in a strong permanent government. Democracy is NOT an Iraqi ideal, its what Iraqis say to please Americans.
All the honest reporters in Iraq know that this is true. The State Dept knows that this is true and the general staff in the Pentagon know this is true. But they all pretend that the dream of the Project for a New American Century came true and we converted an Arab dictatorship into a Constitutional Republic. The idea is so pathetic as to be funny if so many people hadn't died in the process.
Why is it taking so long to form a government? Because the Iraqis that might be able to become that strongman all know that this may very well be the last opportunity to obtain national leadership by relatively peaceful methods. Whoever runs the Iraqi security apparatus now will have an overwhelming advantage over any adversaries. They will be able to use the Iraqi army and police to eliminate rivals and secure their power.
The only thing that will keep that coalescence of power from happening is the presence of 50,000 American troops. That might be enough deterrent to prevent the sectarian grapple for power. So do we have stay there forever? Is that victory?
How about our soldiers....Why are so many committing suicide and murder when they come home? Why are so many of these poor guys winding up in prison and homeless shelters? How many can honestly say that they think they helped create a better world?
Bottom line - We have won nothing. We have killed hundreds of thousands of people needlessly. We have destroyed irreplaceable cultural icons, we have destroyed the most culturally developed nation in the Mid East and we have the hubris to say that we have won. We have indebted our children by another trillion dollars for what? The world isn't safer, the Iraqis aren't better off. All we did was guarantee 7 years of impressive profits for military contractors.