It's a good thing our troops have stayed in Iraq. We took (some) weapons away from civilians, destroyed and disbanded the army and police. Ordinary citizens weren't sure they could protect themselves under these conditions, we had a duty to protect them. You fix what you break, basically. We're doing that. Bringing home our troops early would have been a selfish move that would have left people more vulnerable, more angry, more hurt.
They're having elections over there. Have you seen the pictures? It might just be journalistic bias, maybe I'm just moved by images of people walking on sand. But what I saw were hundreds of people marching peacefully to the polls. Proud, strong people who care about determining their future by cooperating with each other, who care enough to make the sacrifices that come with a democracy. Good people, or as near it as any of us come.
Things could have gone better. Our president, our congress should have suffered some sort of penalty for making the wrong decision. We shouldn't have gone to war considering the lack of actual evidence. Even with evidence, all we had were threats, not at actual attack. But maybe we should have gone a long time ago to free people who had no other option, who chose to live miserably rather than not live at all, hoping for better days. At some point, we should have had a new beginning; a point at which our president and congress (and even all of us) took the blame for making a wrong decision, and a point at which we resolved to do good for the sake of doing good. We wouldn't have to muddle the message anymore, we wouldn't have to talk about the wrong war at the wrong time, because it would be a new war, a new purpose, and our soldiers would just happen to already be over there. We could be proud of the work they are doing without having to confuse this with the issue of weapons of mass destruction. We could simply enjoy being a caring nation who took interest in freeing people. We could be ourselves again.
Things could have gone better, but I'm glad they're going as well as they are. I still think we were deceived, I still think bad decisions were made, but I'm also glad I can see photos of men and women proudly taking hold of their future. And I'm not confused by it, I'm not ashamed by this. Those who tell you there's a necessary paradox here are those who have something to gain by confusing you, on both sides of the issue.