Many of us on the right supported the toppling of Saddam Hussein. He was a terror supporter. In those post-9/11 days, there was reason to believe our government was serious about dealing with terror-supporting regimes as if they were terrorists. If Saddam was the next domino to fall after the Taliban, all to the good — it didn’t seem like he’d be the last.

But then the Bush doctrine morphed from a crackdown on the jihad into a reimagining of the Middle East. When democracy predictably didn’t take, the dreamers decided to define democracy down rather than admit failure. “Democracy” somehow became fully compatible with repressive sharia, and we fantasized that anti-Western Islamic supremacists were democratic allies and that Iran would play a constructive regional role.

It was absurd. Yet it was the unquestioned premise for concluding, in 2008, that a sharia state gravitating ever further into Iran’s orbit — an Iraqi state that was dependent on the loyalty of Shiite militias and was already in a simmering conflict with its restive Sunni minority — could be trusted in the imminent draw-down, then complete absence, of American troops to preserve the security gains hard won by American bravery and know-how.