One might want to contemplate a war ineptly fought, brutal, and at times hopeless. Chechnya comes to mind. The Russians won in Chechnya against Moslem jihadis. And they did it even though they really do want to control Chechnya. And after thirteen years, they do control Chechnya.
Let's look at that history:
It took a while, and involved some trial and error. When Chechnya first tried to separate itself from Russia (after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991), Russia responded with an inept military operation (1994-6) that killed over 35,000 people, and failed. Russia withdrew and left the Chechens to their own devices.
So the Russians made mistakes in their invasion. A lot of civilians died. And in the end, the Russians pulled out.
And what happened after pulling out? Surely the Chechens stopped fighting and stopped being a threat to Russia after the Russians were gone, right? Well:
Problem was, the Chechens could not agree on how to form a unified government, and stumbled into a perpetual civil war. Along they way, some factions adopted Islamic radicalism, and began moving into adjacent areas, that were still very much under Russian control. Other, less religious, factions, used Chechnya as a safe haven for smuggling and kidnapping operations throughout southern Russia.
So did the Russians manage to talk to all the neighbors and end the fighting in a triumph of chatting to their enemies? Well, no:
In 1999, the Russians came back in, and the second pacification campaign made greater use of Special Forces and better trained and led troops in general. This campaign killed about 5,000 people, but succeeded. The main reason for the success was the use of an ancient Russian technique. Basically, the Russians sought out Chechens who would be willing to run Chechnya, under Russian supervision, as long as they could keep the crime and terrorism under control. The Russians didn't care how "their Chechens" did it, as long as there was not a return to the 1994-9 era of rampant criminal activity. And no Islamic terrorism either.
Fine, military victory was achieved. But I'm sure this just created more terrorists to fight Russia. Not quite:
Over the last few years, the violence, and Islamic terrorism inside Chechnya, and Russia, declined.
So this victory--in conquering a Moslem region--didn't create more terrorists? Surely, the wider Moslem world never forgave Russia for this crime of subduing and controlling a Moslem region? Again, no. The Russians have helped the Moslem world (though it hurts us) and the Moslems shrug and move on:
This has worked, and Russia is now much more popular in Moslem nations, despite the defeat of the Moslem people in Chechnya. When reminded of this, the Russians merely point out that, currently, it's Moslems killing Moslems in Chechnya, and that sort of thing is accepted throughout the Moslem world.
So don't talk to me about our errors in Iraq. We've made few and they are hardly unique to the Iraq War or fatal if we keep pusing toward victory. If anti-war criticism was intended to help us fight better and win, I wouldn't mind. It is necessary, even. But the criticism is intended only to provide reasons to run.
Nor should you discuss withdrawing as a way of solving the problem. Abandoning a war mid-war just makes more problems that we will have to face again.
And don't talk to me about creating more terrorists by fighting this war. Fighting and losing creates more terrorists. Lots were created in the 1990s--back when we had that lip-biting sensitivity going for us. Fighting and winning reduces terrorism recruiting.
Finally, remember that just as Moslems forgave France for slaughtering Moslems, and forgave Egyptians for gassing Yemenis, and forgave Saddam for slaughtering Moslems, and forgave Russia for killing and subduing Moslems, Moslems will forgive us for liberating Moslems.
Or not. We never got much credit for a lot of other actions in support of Moslems in the past decades.
But if the Russians can blunder their way through to victory in conquering Chechnya, we can successfully liberate Iraq from killers.
And in the end, our strategy of standing up Iraqis to fight instead of us is the correct strategy. Because Moslems are fairly indifferent to Moslems killing other Moslems. We don't even need credit to enjoy that victory.