WaPo editorial page staffer and columnist Sebastian Mallaby invites us to "Consider Afghanistan. In many ways, nation-building there has been mishandled. The early peacekeeping effort was restricted to the capital; the resulting power vacuum allowed regional warlords to dig in; the opium trade has boomed, bolstering criminals who work against the state and corrupting government officials. Despite these errors, however, Afghanistan is at least partly a success. Three years ago, the country featured medieval zealots and large terrorist bases. Today it features an enlightened constitution, 3 million exiles who have felt confident enough to return home and an election that attracted a remarkable turnout, whatever the flaws in administering it.
"The same is likely to be true in Iraq," believes Mallaby, "if America shows enough determination."