Charles Freeman on what the US achieved in Iraq (i.e., nothing):
If the idea was to showcase the virtues of the rule of law and American-style civil liberties, then our behavior at Abu Ghraib, our denial of the protections of the Geneva Conventions to our battlefield enemies, and our suspension of habeas corpus (as well as many other elements of the Bill of Rights) at home put paid to that. These lapses from our constitution and the traditions of our republic have left us morally diminished. They have greatly devalued our credibility as international advocates of human freedoms everywhere, not just in the Middle East. We have few ideological admirers in the Arab or broader Islamic worlds these days. Our performance in Iraq is part of the reason for that.
Freeman was a first-term Obama almost-appointee nixed by the forces of darkness. The above excerpt comes from a speech given 13 days before Mitt Romney lost; long but worth a read.