Looking at this article and other news, it seems the long-term result of the war in Iraq is the following:
(in no particular order)
– It deposed a dictator who was a threat to the region and his people and a supporter of terrorists;
– It drew al Qaeda in a big way into Iraq where we could kill them far away from our own civilian populations;
– It led to the discredit of al Qaeda and their ideology by defeating them and exposing their tactics as the wrong way for the entire Islamic world;
– It allowed the development of a 3rd way of political organization in the Islamic world that shows signs of promise (the 3rd way is representative government vs. secular or religious dictatorships—the 1st and 2nd ways).
– It allowed Sunnis (and Shias) the opportunity to kill al Qaeda members with joy further discrediting them and their ideology and provided the opportunity for grassroots level Iraqis to take control over their own lives and decide for themselves to invest in a new Iraq.
– It allowed a model of actual cooperation and peace to develop between Shia and Sunni (although it came after a local war and thousands of dead Iraqis to get there, but that’s better than another regional war between Iraq and Iran that would kill millions).
– It created an environment where Islamic scholars and leaders around the world finally now have the courage of their convictions to speak openly against al Qaeda’s ideology (after they saw what side was winning in Iraq and Afghanistan);
– It provided further evidence that kicking al Qaeda’s butt is better than kissing it.
– It may make Bush look like a genius looking back in 20 years.
Updated 16 June 2008 with a list from a friend on the ground in Mosul working with a PRT:
– Within Iraq, it opened the doors for technical advancement in science and social structure;
– Within Iraq, it established the mechanism for shared (between national and local level) budgeting and funding of governmental functions;
– Within Iraq, it has created a dynamic, well trained and equipped and capable police and Iraqi armed forces.
– Within Iraq, it has established the only possible solution/approach for Middle East peace;
– Within Iraq, it has initiated a mechanism for a (true) united national identity.
Updated 27 June 2008:
Gerard Baker in the Times of London article today makes many of the same points… Al Qaeda on the run, their ideology being marginalized within the Muslim community etc. Worth reading (hat tip to Hot Air)