Given that the current situations on the ground in both Afghanistan and Iraq are probably better than what we are treated to in the MSM they are nevertheless unsatisfactory by most criteria. The results of the policies regarding establishing so called "democracies" on conquered enemies are historically a mixed bag at best. The Treaty of Versailles must be judged a failure. The establishment of a gaggle of pip-squeak nations from the remnants of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was a recipe for the tragedy of WW II wherein an aggrieved nation succumbed to a psychotic leadership that proceeded to wreak havoc on Europe. Likewise the Franco British arbitrary eking out of non viable nation states in the middle East from the Ottoman Empire has contributed substantially to the current unpleasantness. The plus side of the ledger must be considered as well. Japan and Germany come to mind and they both required long term efforts for which the U.S appears to have lost patience.
Conversely, the policy of salutary neglect toward conquered peoples pursued by the ancient Assyrians and Mongols often resulted in their need to revisit the errant societies to rebuild the heaps of severed heads previously left as a warning against failure to remit the necessary tribute.
Unfortunately the U.S. like ancient Rome finds itself to be an unintended Imperial power not by intent but by the adoption of local and regional entangling alliances and treaties as well as their concomitant economic and security commitments.
As has been the situation with most such empires, the power wielded by the "leadership" is so immense that partisans will inevitably emerge which have a vested interest in the failure of their domestic opponents. The difference now being the substitution of public relations campaigns for the dagger and sword. We are thus witnessing the emergence of a major political party that has for all intents and purposes adopted a policy of national defeat for the sole reason of assuming the reigns of power.
All retrospective vision is at least 20/20 with miss steps easily identified. For that reason the Assyrian and Mongol models for dealing with the present situation are looking more and more inviting although politically incorrect .