You and I often fall on the same side of every issue. I also appreciate that you tend to be the voice of compassion in all debates. I think there is a great deal of sincerity in that which you write. However, in this case I disagree with your assessment on one basis and one basis alone; radical Islam.
I have stated here before, I hated the labels we put on each other when talking politics (liberal vs. conservative), because if I state that I am either or, does that mean I have to follow blindly in the path of either? Like you, I agree the Iraq war was error, on many grounds. I am not one of those people who changed their opinion as the war progressed, I was always firmly against it, although my reasons were/are different than yours. Let me explain...
While I never bought the WMD argument, I also totally rejected the "terrorist links" argument. However, for me, the single biggest reason why I thought Saddam was better than any alternative, is because he is a "secular dictator". That is, Saddam never used the cry of jihad to rally his cause. Was he brutal? Yes. Did he committ crimes against his own people? Yes, but he didn't do anything even close to the scale of crimes going on in *several* African nations.
So why was it better to have him in power? Well, here is where we differ. The middle east has proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that democracy is incompatible with the will of the people. Iraq and now the Palestinians are case in point. When given the opportunity to have free elections, they voted for "Islamic parties" that generally support oppressive Islamic regimes which preach the destruction of Israel and support dhimmitude, as well as general jihad against infidels.
Lets say, we are able to stop "the insurgency" in Iraq 100%. How long after things have "settled down" do you think it will take before they democratically elect and Islamic regime? Obviously, nobody can say for certain, but it is my belief that if left "truly free", Iraq will be a radical Islamic state in 15 years. Under Saddam, that would have never happened. Maybe a simple case of the lesser of two evils.
So, how does this tie into Iran. Well, its radical Islam. The current crop of leaders in Iran are radical Shea clerics. Even Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is of the radical clerical ilk (although he's not a cleric). He was "democratically elected", as Iranians chose him over a more "moderate" alternative. So what's the big deal?
Unlike Iraq, Ahmadinejad truly believes, his, is a mission from God. Thus, if he gets a bomb, why not use it on the Israeli's, if it be God's will? If it means that he martyrs his entire nation by sending a few nuclear bombs to Israel, so be it, because "God will be well pleased". Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's goal is not Territorial expansion. It's not about a better life for his people. He has a mission, which was commanded by Mohamed. Defeat the infidel at any cost, so that you will be with God. For this reason and this reason alone, Iran is very different than Iraq.
While I agree that Iraq was a grave error, I do not believe it is the yardstick, by which Iran must be measured.