Wow. All kinds of strategic expertise here.
Um...Saddam offered and paid $26,000 per suicide bomber, Hamas had what was effectively an embassy in Baghdad, as did Abu Nidal and Abu Abbas. So I don't know what "proof" you can have that he didn't support them.
Two of the first things we found when we went in were Roland AA missiles from France and Germany, and German built bunkers, and scads of new former Soviet equipment Russia sold him.
The Useless Nations objected to us going in because they knew we'd figure out they were on the take.
Then there was the corruption over the oil for food--seems everyone except the Iraqi people benefited, including Annan's relatives. Funny, that.
So a UN mandate is worthless. They're whores.
Incidentally, France is operating in Cote d'Ivoire and a few other places with no UN mandate, if that matters to you.
And my base had Americans, Brits, Aussies, Koreans, even the Japanese, Georgians, occasional others, and the Canadians used us as a waypoint, so regardless of any stupid "mandate," the civilized world is pretty much all on board. We don't have the French, but that's like swimming without a bicycle.
That's just to stop the other quotes you're borrowing from various sources.
Now, let's discuss strategy.
We were attacked by al Qaida, a diffuse, international network. They were operating from Afghanistan for ideological support from the Taliban, and because it's the ass end of nowhere.
Asscrackistan, as some of us call it, took a million casualties fighting the Soviets, and the Soviets only lost 15,000 men, but gave up. The Brits spent a century trying to pacify it. No luck. We have to go all the way back to Alexander the Great to find a successful conquest. If you fight them, you have to fight a close up infantry battle on their home mountainous terrain, with very minimal air support, crappy logistics, almost non-existent artillery, no armor. The Marines brought back the MULE PACKER specialty, it's so rugged.
Rule 1: Do not fight the enemy on his chosen ground, especially when it sucks.
So, if we're not going to fight them there, and we're not going to fight them here, and France would object to fighting them there, and Africa would be about as bad, and we can't get them to Antarctica, and Russia doesn't want to host the party...that sort of leaves the Middle East. Not ideal, but it's terrain we DO know, have every square inch dialed into GPS, and have allies.
The airbases in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and formerly Saudi Arabia are FREE. I can't begin to describe how much Kuwaitis HATE Iraqis, and they all fear Iran, so we get free bases, free fuel, free food, free water, free electrical power, and pretty safe environments to operate from.
This caused half the crazies to leave Asscrackistan, and show up where we could stomp them. The Press screamed and wet their pants and followed along to get photos of fresh blood, because they're whores, too. (The check on this is that while I was deployed, CNN had, "AFGHANISTAN: THE FORGOTTEN WAR." I assure you, the military has not forgotten Afghanistan. What they meant was they didn't have enough blood to make headlines.) This allowed the special ops people (many of whom train at my wife's duty station, http://www.mutc.in.ng.mil, and I can't say much more than that) to sneak around, help the locals with food and veterinary support, and dig for info quietly. You might recall that after the first couple of bombing missions, it got very quiet--because you DON'T start trouble with the Pashtun if you don't have to. It heated up again a few months ago, because it took almost 8 years to make friends and earn trust and find out where the scumbags were.
We took down Saddam, who was an existing pain in our ass, and handed him over to his peasants to be hanged on youtube. This was a lesson to every other asshole in the region.
We took down THE MOST POWERFUL MUSLIM MILITARY in two weeks. This was also an object lesson.
We now have bases in Iraq, Afghanistan, oh, and a bunch we built in the 'stans to the north, in case we need to operate from there.
Look at the map.
Iran is surrounded.
If you think that was accidental or pointless, I have a bridge to sell you.
I'd also point out that after Pearl Harbor, we attacked NORTH AFRICA, and then defeated GERMANY, because strategy is a little more complicated than just hitting the person who hit you.
And I'm still waiting for the Dems to discuss their withdrawal strategy for Korea, Germany, Japan and Italy.
Incidentally, the causes of this war are indirectly traceable to 1948, and Carter and Clinton both failed to respond vigorously enough. (And please don't repeat the BS about us selling weapons to Iraq. We stopped that in 1968, which is to say, when the Ba'athists took over, and we gave them VERY SANITIZED satellite photos to use against Iran in the 80s. All the weaponry I encountered was RUSSIAN, with the exception of a few relics left over from the Aden Protectorate and the Ottoman Empire.)
But, given that Wilson got us into WWI, FDR was in charge during WWII, Truman invited us into Korea (with a UN mandate), and both JFK and LBJ mismanaged Vietnam (without), all democrats, and it was Nixon who was in charge when we pulled out of Vietnam, I don't see the Democrats have a lot of moral ground to stand on.
Now, I don't pretend to be an expert at whatever you do for a living, so how's about not trying to tell the military how to do its job?
Furthermore, every single member of the US military is a volunteer, did you know that? And all of use enlisted or re-enlisted since the invasion of Iraq, and more than 90% had done so by 2006, so the time for whining is long over. No one is serving who doesn't want to and doesn't know the score, and the average service member is smarter and better educated than the average civilian. I'm somewhere north of 170 credits even though I don't have a degree, and my wife is over 300. I've got friends with masters from Johns Hopkins and Rutgers, and most of the field grade officers are at least masters if not PhDs. We do have some small idea how to do our jobs.