In their effort to portray both invasion and abandonment of Iraq as an error, Slate relies on Brent Scowcroft who also opposed both choices:
In August of 2002, as George W. Bush and his allies were building the case for regime change in Iraq, Scowcroft warned in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that an attack on Iraq “would seriously jeopardize, if not destroy, the global counterterrorist campaign we have undertaken.” Though Scowcroft was confident that the U.S. could succeed in destroying Saddam’s regime, he was also confident that military action would be expensive and bloody, and that it “very likely would have to be followed by a large-scale, long-term military occupation.” As we all know, Scowcroft’s warning went unheeded by the Bush White House.
Yes, the invasion so destroyed the international consensus on fighting terrorism that President Obama could boast in early 2012 that al Qaeda was beaten. The fact is, we've never lost the support of our allies in fighting Islamist terrorism.
Was the war expensive and bloody? Compared to what? In Syria, a country of similar size, casualties in just a few years of resistance--without our supposedly horrible effect had we intervened--have far surpassed the casualties of Iraq where we fought and helped Iraqis fight insurgents and terrorists for 8 years.
Indeed, our casualty rate was historically low.
Expensive? Well, the 2009 Stimulus package committed to spending more at the stroke of a pen than we had spent up to that point on direct costs of fighting the war.
Was there a large-scale and long-term American military occupation? No. We left in 2011 after 8+ years. That's the bloody point of the Slate article isn't it? That we left too soon?
Germany had a large-scale and long-term American military occupation. And still does, 69 years after the war ended. The same goes for Japan, Italy, and South Korea.
And for Pete's sake, it was no mistake to wage the Iraq War. The Obama administration once boasted of how well Iraq was going. Remember?
But right now, let's settle for explaining how leaving Iraq to face al Qaeda, Iran, and all the other forces working to undermine Iraq was a great mistake. And then quickly discuss what do we do to correct that mistake.