Sorry, anti-war protesters. We can't just turn it off and walk away from it.
Think of Iraq as a pile of dog shit. Think of the United States as a pair of lugged-sole shoes worn by an irresponsible child named George W. Bush. Think of America's situation as a white carpet. If we do not take all the time necessary to clean all the dog shit out of those shoe soles, we will track it all over the white carpet. True, we have every reason to be infuriated with little Georgie for wearing boots that weren't even really his and running through the pile of dog shit, but that does not change the reality of the present situation. Even if we yank little George up by the scruff of the neck so he quits dancing on the steaming pile of turd, the boots are still dirty.
Okay, now the metaphor breaks down, because you don't clean shit off your shoes while still standing in it, whereas the human chaos in Iraq does demand the direct involvement of responsible, mature, committed individuals to bring all receptive parties to a reasonable solution. It was just really fun to portray our unfortunate chief executive as a naughty boy in misappropriated shoes, stomping in shit.
George said one true thing when he told us the war would be long and difficult. He might have been referring to his Grand War on Terror, but it certainly applies to the Iraq conflict. Quagmires by definition slow your rate of travel. That does not mean you will be in them forever. But expect to pick up a few leeches and fight off a few crocodiles as you slog along in search of that elusive higher ground.
While the Iraq war evolves, terrorist attacks in other parts of the world are investigated after the fact or foiled in advance by diligent police work. Terrorist operatives theoretically have access to a number of sources of useful tools to create devastation. We can't be everywhere at once. We have to hope we manage to be in the right place at the right time. Iraq wasn't it, but it's a mess we now have to clean up properly if we can.