I submit that most reasonable people would agree the Iraq campaign has not turned out as we would have liked. How did we come to this point and how can we avoid similar debacles in the future? Let us begin by examining the strategies available in modern conflicts. A nation contemplating the use of military force has three basic strategies for large scale, ie non-guerilla, combat. Type I conflicts involve the use of force to coerce the opponent to take or refrain from taking some particular action. Typically the offensive will take the form of air strikes designed to impose unacceptable costs on the opponent. A classic example was Clinton's war on the former Yugoslavia. While the goals, eg regime change and establishment of a Muslim state in Kosovo, may be problematic, the strategy was well-matched to the objective. In Type I conflicts, the offensive force is not concerned with anything but achieving a limited objective. Occupation and subjugation of the population are not required. Type II conflicts are a step up and are designed to destroy most or all of the opponent's military assets. The objective is to render the opponent unable to project offensive force. The first Gulf war, while nominally a Type I conflict, actually was more of a Type II, as the coalition forces ended up destroying most of Iraq's military and rendering it toothless as an offensive power in the region. Type II conflicts are serious affairs, as the attacked country typically has significant ability to counterattack, unlike the Type I situation. For example, in the run-up to WW II, the allies faced a classic situation requiring a Type II response. Nazi Germany had violated treaty obligations by building a significant military force. The only practical response was to try to destroy those forces before they reached the point of being stronger than those opposing them. The final paradigm of conflict is Type III. This is warfare designed to achieve one result, unconditional surrender. Examples are WW II and the American Civil War, at least from the Northern perspective. Type III conflicts typically produce significant civilian deaths and untold suffering in the affected region. One distinguishing feature of a Type III conflict is that the losing country is invariably occupied by foreign forces following surrender. In Type I or II conflicts, such occupation is either unnecessary or impractical, although "peace keeping " forces from a neutral third party may be inserted for a time. Looking back on military history, we see that a mismatch in objectives and strategy often precedes failure. Vietnam is an obvious example. We fought that conflict as a Type I encounter, believing that the gradual escalation of military force on North Vietnam would inevitably coerce that country to abandon its aggression on the South. The North Vietnamese treated it as a Type III war, with conquest and annexation of the South as its goals. In effect, they went "all in" and we folded. Similarly, the humiliating withdrawal from Somalia reflected another mismatch. We were not even prosecuting a Type I conflict, while the opposing forces saw our presence as a Type III threat to them. To occupy a country, you have to have defeated it first. We hadn't, we weren't prepared to do what was required, so we left. Turning to Iraq, we see a confusion of objectives in the run-up to that war. The administration had evidence to perhaps justify a Type I conflict(eg, regime change), they used rhetoric appropriate for a Type II conflict ("destroy WMD before they became an imminent threat"), but they utilized a form of Type III-lite strategy. They invaded and occupied a country that had not really been defeated sufficiently to pacify. They achieved a Type I result, regime change, but treated it as a Type III victory. They might have pulled it off if they had insisted on a Type III unconditional surrender and treated the Iraqis as vanquished foes who had no right to do anything. Instead, we morphed overnight from Type III victors into a peacekeeping and nationbuilding force, there to assist the grateful Iraqis. Only they weren't grateful. Many, like the Somali warlords, could see that we weren't prepared to act like Type III victors. They saw the very real possibility of reacquiring the power they held under Saddam, if only they could drive us out. Where did we go wrong? I suggest a Type I conflict would have produced adequate results. We could have achieved it by a bombing campaign similar to the Yugoslavian conflict. Even better, we could have gained tremendous leverage by attacking and seizing the southern oilfields in Basra, thus denying Saddam the resources to pursue WMD. We could have used return of the oilfields as a bargaining lever with whatever post-Saddam government emerged. We now face situations in North Korea and Iran that are obvious candidates for a Type II response. Regime change is inadequate and we can't trust them to dismantle their nuclear programs. Only destruction of them will suffice. As with Hitler however, the diplomatic costs of such a response are enormous and there is always an outside chance that things will work out if we defer.