I don't believe our invasion will set us back in the long run unless we withdraw before Iraq can defend itself. If terrorists are using Iraq to stimulate recruitment, they are doing so calculatingly and opportunistically and will exploit any and every other conceivable U.S. action elsewhere to promote recruitment.
Those who believe we can do anything to mollify terrorists or dissuade them from further recruitment efforts are delusional. We might have denied the terrorists a short-term recruitment tool if we had done the wrong thing by letting Saddam continue to be a world menace, but not for long. They would have found another excuse soon enough.
There is no way we can avoid a confrontation with terrorists, who have long since declared war on us. If not Iraq, it would be somewhere else. We couldn't even avoid confrontation with terrorists by withdrawing from the world. That wouldn't satisfy them either. They want the United States to be part of the worldwide caliphate as well, and at whatever point we resist, they will have their greatest terrorist recruitment tool yet.
Second-guessing aside, we are in Iraq, so what should we do now? What would Democrats have us do -- especially if their main criterion is to minimize further terrorist recruitment? The clear answer, as affirmed in the celebrated, cherry-picked NIE report of April 2006, is that we have to defeat the terrorists in Iraq or they will be emboldened worldwide. So if Democrats truly believe in the standard they have established, we must defeat the terrorists in Iraq. This means we have to stay there until the Iraqi forces are capable of defending themselves.
So all of the Democrats' jaw flapping about terrorist recruitment is just so much hot air. Even Democrats should understand that to withdraw before Iraqis can do the job themselves would be to throw the white flag of surrender to the global jihadists, which would be Mogadishu to the tenth power and invite further 9/11s to the tenth power.
Democratic leaders are mini-emperors with no clothes and no plan, so let's demand their "plan" without cessation through Election Day.