Update Dan Drezner thinks that the decision to invade Iraq will still turn out to have been the correct one, if we are now willing to do what is necessary to succeed. Matt Yglesias agrees, sort of, except that he doubts that, from where we now stand, success is still possible.
My tentative view is that they both might be right: invading might turn out to have been better than not invading if some sort of success is achieved, but our maximal war aim — a stable, democratic, pro-American Iraq — might be, and in fact probably is, a shot not on the board. So the Kerry strategy of defining success down — to call it “success” if we manage to leave Iraq in the grip neither of frank tyranny or active civil war — may now produce the least bad outcome available.
That’s easy for me to say, since I never believed in the feasibility of the maximal agenda but supported the war anyway. Replacing a horrible government that’s very hostile to us with a pretty bad government that’s only somewhat hostile to us isn’t an exciting battle cry to rally the troops or the voters, but you couldn’t really call it a defeat.