This paragraph is bad enough to be worth spending some time on:
I did not believe the American-led coalition could prudently leave Iraq the day Baghdad fell. Coalition troops were essential to support a new Iraqi government.
Translation: The people we turned Iraq over to would invite us to stay, whether anyone else wanted us or not. But they wouldn’t invite too many of us to stay, hopefully, because the entire point of this thing was to demonstrate that we could pound a small country to dust without working up a sweat. Incidentally, what is this “nationalism” you speak of? And what is this thing called “state coercive capacity”?
But I was astonished (and dismayed) that we did not turn to well-established and broadly representative opponents of Saddam Hussein’s regime to assume the responsibilities of an interim government while preparing for elections.
Translation: The group of folks that I and my buddies had cobbled together may not actually have been in Iraq in twenty years, but that’s no reason to believe that they can’t run the place. I know Ahmed Chalabi; Ahmed Chalabi is a friend of mine, and he’s been telling me for thirty years now that he can run Iraq. Who am I to contradict him?
Our troops could have remained, under the terms of a transparently negotiated agreement, to help the people of Iraq build their own society, something we didn’t know how to do and should never have tried. After five years of terrible losses, they may now be getting that chance.
Translation: If only we had installed our puppets sooner, the Iraqis never would have noticed that they were puppets. We could have invaded Iran, like, four years ago! But now, fortunately, we’ve adopted a policy that runs 180 degrees counter to what I just suggested… hmm…. well, at least the hippies don’t like it.