My biggest problem with the ongoing Western presence in Iraq & Afghanistan-- at this stage supposedly for the purpose of democratizing them for the benefit of the Iraqi & Afghani people and the stability & security of the rest of the world-- is a philosophical one. However fantastic it may sound, consider the following: it's the American colonies, pre-independence, the people feel oppressed by the British government. Actions against it are harshly suppressed, other 'civilised' nations are considering supporting some manner of regime-change. Then, the day before the next heavily-taxed tea shipment is due to arrive in Boston harbour, a huge UFO appears in the sky. Aliens land and announce that they've been watching all of this, they don't like the British regime and its 'dangerous, aggressive behaviour,' and they want to liberate the American people. They declare that British troops have to surrender or leave, and when they don't the aliens use their overwhelming technological superiority to crush them, driving what's left of British power stakeholders into a guerilla-style resistence. And the ETs declare that they'll be installing a provisional government until the American people can establish their own democratic regime that will stand on its own once the aliens have left.
Now when the aliens feel they've achieved their goals and they leave, how long is that version of America going to last? The people didn't have to fight for it, bleed for it, die for it. They're grateful, certainly, but how invested are they? How much do they 'own' their new independence, and therefore how much responsibility do they take for maintaining it?
While it's admittedly a far-fetched, I think the point that this scenario is meant to make is legitimate: for a nation of people to *really care* about their government and support it and defend it against enemies foreign and domestic, it has to be theirs. They had to create it for themselves, forge it with their own sweat and blood. Which do you value more: the house that you built yourself from the ground up, or one that's given to you already furnished (maybe in colours you don't really care for)? If you built it yourself, you can be damn sure there'll be smoke alarms; if it was given to you, do you think to check for them? What about an adequate security home security system?
So the problem is that swooping in and telling a people "you're free now" doesn't *make* them free, any more than the state telling an 18 year-old "you're an adult now" makes them an adult. Real 'freedom' and 'adulthood' are both a status that has to be earned through an internal struggle and process of growth and liberation and maturation. The illusion of adulthood un-earned is probably one of the biggest factors in reckless, irresponsible behaviour; so what can we expect from a "free & democratic" state that didn't come to its freedom or democracy internally, under its own power and initiative, by overthrowing its own oppressors and shaking off its own inequities?
Whether all of this is moot now that NATO & the US are seemingly stuck in Afghanistan & Iraq (more or less respectively) for fear of each utterly imploding in the event of a withdrawl, who knows for sure. But maybe at the least it can be taken as instructional next time there's talk about invading some other country and 'civilising' them.