Remember the time George W. Bush landed on that carrier deck and stood, triumphant, in front of a very large banner that read, "Mission Accomplished"? You know, people have been lampooning, demeaning, and making fun of him for this ever since.. but the fact is, he was right. I mean, if the goal of our invasions of both Iraq and Afghanistan was regime change, we can most definitely claim "mission accomplished". And if the goal also included conquest (more or less) and occupation, the same thing applies. So it is a bit small-minded of everyone to persist in calling these operations "wars", because they're aren't wars at all -- they're occupations. Occupations that involve insurgency, but this is a universal trait of occupations. There are always insurgents, rebels, partisans -- call them what you will. I can't think of too many cases where an occupied country just basically rolled over and played dead; I guess Germany and Japan after World War II are examples, but they are exceptions that prove the rule. The problem is, the Germany and Japan experience spoiled us by giving us a grossly distorted picture of what occupation is all about. More often, it's a case like the German occupations during World War II... or the Soviet occupations afterwards. There are always a few soreheads who are unwilling to accept things as they are, and they take up arms, and perhaps get a bit of help from the outside... and the next thing you know, you have an "insurgency", which, if you turned it around the other way, would look like a small, brave band of loyal patriots fighting against the oppressor (and the oppressor's lapdogs and toadies). And this is, in fact, how these groups always present themselves. Even terrorists who kill mostly their own countrymen are always, allegedly, fighting for the good of that country in the long run -- for its freedom and independence from the colonial powers, etc. Our politicians could do much worse than to just take, say, five minutes out of every day and imagine that we are the ones who are under occupation, and what our reaction would be to much of what we are doing over there. And it also wouldn't hurt to imagine how popular "collaborators" would be if we were the ones being occupied. People would be making lists and tying hangman's nooses in preparation for that happy day when all the collaborators could be hung from lamposts.
Am I saying that these should be our only foreign policy considerations when issues of invasion and occupation come up? No -- but they should at least be on the table, which they most certainly are not at this point. Even "our most brilliant general", Gen. Petraeus, never (at least publicly) tries to put himself in the other guy's shoes (sandals, whatever). It's, America is always right, and the other guys are always wrong -- but this is not the voice of principle, it's the voice of empire. And it is heard that way by virtually everyone off these shores.