When it comes to the Middle East in general, America has done a lot to attempt to bring order and some amount of social freedom not granted to the people by the governments of that region. True, we always had our interests in mind to varying extents, but I believe that our attempts to simply democratize the region for the sake of providing freedom to those who never had it before have been genuine to at least some degree.
I've come to believe that true stability may never be reached in the Middle East...but you can't fault the U.S. for at least trying. The problem is, you have the roots of almost half of the world's religious beliefs set in this general region. You also have some of the most extreme tribalistic societies in this region. Combine that with a willingness to die for your beliefs because the man next to you does not believe what you believe...and by killing them and yourself, you get 72 virgins and an eternity in paradise...well, I guess personal freedom and democracy now can't compare with those kinds of promises that can be achieved by simply killing "infidels" in the name of Allah.
The worst part of it all is that most Muslims do not believe in these acts. However, their religion has been so hijacked by these extremists that they feel powerless to stop them. The other roadblock is the different sects of Islam refuse to coexist, much like the Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland, even though they read from the same book of beliefs.
However, I've read a few reports that state that Al Qaeda has lost a lot of influence in Iraq in recent months. Most of this loss of influence is due to these non-extremist Muslims standing up and refusing to give shelter to Al Qaeda terrorists, and not just U.S. military force alone.
Maybe we can end this occupation on a positive note, after all.