Judith Yaphe raises a number of very important points, but the dilemma of the U.S. position in Iraq is that many of the arguments for staying are also arguments for leaving. For instance, has the U.S. occupation of Iraq really made progress in the Arab-Israeli conflict more likely? Hasn't the U.S. already given Iran a substantial geopolitical "present" by virtue of toppling Iran's nemesis and thereby offering Iran freer access to Iraq? This is not to imply that the U.S. should summarily withdraw from Iraq, but it does suggest that the U.S. invasion was extremely imprudent. While the U.S. is in a process of disengaging from Iraq the U.S. government would be very well advised to intensify its dialogue with Iran and constructively reengage on the Israeli-Palestinian front.
The Daily Star - Opinion Articles - The horrendous costs of an American failure in Iraq: "If Iraq somehow survives intact, everyone will take credit. If it fails, the blame will be placed squarely on the American doorstep. The costs of failure will be measured in the increased risk of wider Sunni-Shiite conflict, the undermining of regimes long friendly to the U.S., and the prospect of jihadists controlling whatever Sunni state emerges in the former Iraq. More worrisome, failure, accompanied by a U.S. withdrawal, will reaffirm for many that domestic American politics in an election year can reshape international commitments and security strategies regardless of international conditions.
The consequences for Iraq will be far worse. Failure accompanied by American military disengagement will signal the beginning of all-out civil war. To date, religious extremists, nationalists, disgruntled Baathists and military officers and the remnants of Saddam's terror squads have scrimmaged while the Kurds watch. Failure and withdrawal will most likely mean war in which Arab fights Arab for territorial control of a new Iraq under one leader, faction, clan, sect, or party. Nothing will be sacred or safe, not even an independent or autonomous Kurdistan regional authority."