One of the themes that Pete Hegseth has been pointing out is that while Iraqis have killed many US service members, Iraq is not our enemy. As a matter of fact we need to start looking at them as a developing ally. The left, and far too many who have drunk the poison being published and broadcast, focus on the casualties in Iraq and the fact that we have been there for 5 years as the salient facts. Sadly no, those factors certainly matter but they fail to take a strategic view of our relationship with that country and our role in that region.
The proper context is our relationships with Germany and Japan post WWII. We fought a vicious, bloody war against both and even made the only use of nuclear weapons in history against Japan. Yet today we have troops in both countries and they have been allies ever since. The post-war periods in both were difficult, but we managed to take occupations and turn them into alliances that benefit all. The situation in Iraq is more difficult because the Iraqi Army and state were never actually defeated in combat. When the Thunder Run rolled into Baghdad, the vast majority of Iraqi soldiers took off their uniforms and went home. This is a very different dynamic and we didn't adapt to it very well. Rumsfeld's plan to impose a national government and allow that to rebuild their society might have worked if the Sunni Baathists had stood their ground and been summarily defeated. Instead we disbanded the army and left tens of thousands of Saddam's thugs with no livelihood and the idea that they could run us back out of their country by terrorist acts.
When we regained the initiative by adopting a counter-insurgency strategy, we began the steps necessary to turn Iraq into an ally. Iran has designs on becoming the dominant force in the region and that would be detrimental to peace and stability. A free, democratic Iraq that considers the US a friend and feels grateful for being liberated from a tyrant would be a powerful counterpoint to Iran, which has been it's historic role. That may have seemed like a pipe dream even as late as 2006 but far too many people on the ground there now report that every day more Iraqis join forces with the US. And even more significantly the Iraqi security forces have made major strides toward providing their people the safe environment necessary for reconciliation and reconstruction.
The sticking point is the presence of US troops in the Middle East and that is a concern, but it is really a red herring used by the Islamists to justify their global jihad. If we took every US troop out of Iraq, they would complain about Kuwait, remove them and they will complain about McDonalds and Starbucks, burn those to the ground and satellite TV will become the rationale. These extremists want to rule the world under the iron sandal of Sharia law and we need to confront that not attempt to appease them. Although the presence of infidels in our ally Iraq would cause the jihadis tremendous consternation, a growing relationship between us and our new friend could show others in the area that we are not out to loot their oil. We helped rebuild most of Europe and also Japan after WWII and that gained us several solid allies, there is no reason not to follow that successful model and make Iraq our latest.