“Do I think the mission overall in Iraq is the correct one, I think without a doubt it is. And I think the Democrats are going to change their minds about it again,” he said, noting that Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards voted for the initial invasion as senators. Edwards has since apologized for his vote, while Clinton argues that she would not have voted for the war resolution if she knew then what she knows now.

“I think they’re going to change their minds. I think the verdict of history is going to be that it was the right decision,” Giuliani said.

He argued that had the United States not invaded Iraq, it would now face two dangerous countries trying to become nuclear powers — Iraq and Iran.

“Suppose Hillary Clinton and John Edwards’ new position was their position back then, that it was a mistake to take him out,” he said, in a reference to Saddam Hussein. “Wouldn’t we be dealing with Saddam Hussein becoming nuclear right now? If Iran was becoming nuclear what would he be doing? Sitting there letting his arch enemy gain nuclear power over him? Or would we now be dealing with two countries seeking to become nuclear powers.”

I don’t want to give him a hard time about a throwaway line but the left isn’t going to give up its paradigm foreign-policy Teachable Moment for anything short of pluperfect Jeffersonian democracy in Iraq. And even then, their line on it would be that it wasn’t worth the blood and treasure, that America can’t afford “these sorts of ‘victories,'” etc. It will, however, be interesting to see what happens next summer if security continues to improve and the casualty trend continues. War support will rebound, not by much but perhaps enough to make premature defeatism a talking point for the GOP; in that case you’ll probably see Hillary take the line that the troops, through their heroism and against all odds, stabilized a country mismanaged to the point of oblivion by Bush and that we should celebrate by coming home instead of pressing our luck. That message would be greeted warmly, I suspect. The GOP would counter with “let’s seize the momentum, the work isn’t done yet,” but after five years of war they’ll still be looking at a timetable.

Rudy’s other point is excellent and one I’ve made myself on this site. You’ve got a madman in Baghdad who’s invaded two of his neighbors and who would have had a nuclear weapon in the 1980s but for the grace of the IAF. Next door, one of those two neighbors is working on nuclear weapons. What do you suppose he’ll do? The lefty counterargument would be that Iran had had a nuke program in the works for years, one which Saddam surely knew about but which evidently didn’t worry him enough to lead him to restart his own program. If he was a threat to nuclearize, why didn’t he? I suppose the counter-counterargument to that is to assume the point and ask which is more stable for the region: a nuclear-armed Iran breathing down the neck of its non-nuclear mortal enemy, with whom it’d been to war once before, or bordered by an Iraq whose security is guaranteed by the United States? And then the counter-counter-counter to that is to take the Ron Paul approach and say who cares about the region? Etc etc.