If you haven’t read either of Rory Stewart’s books — on Afghanistan and Iraq respectively — you really should. While taking somewhat unusual perspectives on both countries, they are painfully personal narratives that communicate more of the tragedies in these two broken countries than you will get almost anywhere else.
Anyway, the current New York Review of Books contains the transcript of a recent Q&A with Stewart from an event in New York. It’s a street-level view of what is happening in Iraq — Stewart originally supported the U.S. invasion and presence — and it is worth reading in its entirely.
What would I do in Iraq now? I am not an expert, but I believe that the
time has come to withdraw, that our presence is infantilizing the Iraqi
political system. That we’re like an inadequate antibiotic. We are
sufficiently strong to have turned what might have been a conventional
civil war into a highly unconventional neighborhood conflict. But we’re
not strong enough to eliminate it entirely. At the same time I fear
that, without intending to, we have discredited democracy in the eyes
of many Iraqis.