Good points, Kevin.
If you're going to behave as a principled person in the geopolitical world, then you have to follow through - even if it means you don't get your way all the time.
What is Iraq to do, remain an enemy with all its neighbors? That would be suicide. They're still building a new standing army. They're being infiltrated by whacko Wahabis that the Saudis are happy to get rid of. (Don't let the door hit you on the way out...) The Syrians fear democracy may spread to them, and are harboring relatives and friends of Saddam and the Baathists. (I believe Syria's Baathist party is alive and well).
Iraq has three major groups: the Shia muslims, the Sunni Muslims, and the Sunni Kurds. For decades, the minority Sunni Muslims of the Sunni triangle have run the country through fear, torture, and death. Now the majority Shia get their fair representation, and the Kurds in the north get do do their own thing, thank you very much.
We said we were going to remove a dangerous leader, and allow the Iraqis to build a represetational government. We said we hoped democracy would spread. Well... This means that Iraq will not be a U.S. puppet the way Iran once was with The Shah. We saw how far that got us, right? Do the idiots who cry foul whenever Iraqis express their wishes have such a short memory?
Making peace with your neighbors is a good thing. For someone so interested in peaceful change, I should think they would allow such a thing to happen. The Shia tie between south Iraq and the good part of Iran is a natural one.
But lets not forget that ethnicity plays a role here. Iranians are Persians; they are NOT arab, thank you very much. Iraqis have their own sets of ethnic identities. Yes, surveys show many people in that region think religious before ethnic identity. But the two will always go their own way.
What's not to like about two countries seeing the wisdom of fighting against killing innocent people to achieve an end? Did anyone bother to consider that this is a two-way street? Could the Iraqis give the Iranians good reason not to support terrorist groups?
What's not to like about the way Iran has evolved since the extremist days of Khomeini? Men AND women are being educated, and are expressing themselves more freely. They are gently pushing at the boundaries of "Islamic laws" that encroach on personal freedoms. Could the Iraqis help in this process?
Isn't that the whole idea of Condi Rice's "spreading of democracy" mantra?
The more we Americans walk the talk, the more opportunities we have for "luck" to work our way. We should not presume to tell the Iraqis whom to be friends with and whom to vote for. Our job is to help them help themselves, and not to dictate how they should think and act.
After all, we have our July 4th, and the French have their July 14th. Stuff happens...