I was looking at some of my prayers for the Iraq war from last February while doing that piece on fasting, and this paragraph jumped out at me-
I'd prefer Nineveh to the Egypt scenario, but I'm not counting on seeing Saddam in sackcloth and ashes. If the current regime isn't wise enough to back down now, we can pray for wisdom that the behave themselves well when war comes. The nightmare scenarios are plenty; torching oil fields, using what WMD they do have on Israel or Kuwait, self-inflicted destruction of Iraqi infrastructure, guerrilla warfare. That's where my prayer is focused, that the Iraqis not do something self-destructive to their own people as they are being brought down.I added the italics there, for that was the one prayer that wasn't answered. There weren't too many torched oil fields, especially when compared with Kuwait. They didn't use any WMD, because they didn't have them at the ready. Scorched-earth stuff was at a minimum.
However, we've gotten guerrilla warfare, broadly defined, in spades. We've gotten a combination or more formal armed loyalists of the old regime, loyalists of alternative regimes such as a Sadr's boys, and Palestinian-styled autoboomers. When we didn't go into all of Iraq in 1991, I felt that it would have been such a messy occupation (I was envisioning Saddam loyalists holed up in Tikrit and elsewhere, not the modern Islamic terrorist) that it hard to justify; 9/11, even if there was no direct Iraqi connection, upped the ante, as did a decade of chain-yanking on sanctions.
We do have a mess on our hands. However, the answer isn't to walk away or to pawn the work off to the UN, since the UN doesn't have the stomach or the will to provide a large number of troops. The US is largely stuck with cleaning things up; France, Germany and Russia wouldn't be much help even if they were geopolitically willing.
Would I have supported the war knowing then what I know now? Yes. I'd get them to take a harder line on some of the anti-US hotbeds earlier, but I think the result, once everything shakes out, will be a freer, better Iraq.