Help me refute the "we have to clean up our mess" argument
So I got into an argument the other day with a friend who was excusing that Marine who executed an unarmed man in the head by saying "well, he was really stressed out from being shot at, we don't know what it's like to be under that kind of pressure, I think putting him in jail was an overreaction." I tried to make an argument about the importance of human rights, the Geneva Convention, and so on, how we can't exactly claim the moral high ground when we're killing innocent civilians, torturing people and shooting unarmed men, but I didn't make a dent. We reached an impasse, but I felt I had made a good, strong case.
But where he really stumped me was, I was talking about civilian casualties, how the Iraq war was illegal and unjustified, based on a lie, and so on, and his response was "Yeah, but it's too late for that--we're already there, and we have to finish the job, clean up our mess, etc. We can't just leave the country in chaos." And then he asked "Do you have a better plan?" And I got a bit flustered. I think the U.S. needs to leave Iraq as soon as possible, and that the U.S. occupation is only making things worse, no matter how many schools they paint or cities they "secure." But I also think that after bombing Iraq and killing thousands of people for a lie, the U.S. has a certain responsibility.
Granted, with Bush elected there's no real chance that we'll ever do anything sane regarding Iraq in the foreseeable future. But I'm curious--does anyone have any really solid and persuasive arguments or articles about actual PRACTICAL (if theoretical) ways to pull out of this mess without leaving Iraq in total chaos? (And I don't mean appointing U.S. puppet governors.) Kerry had made arguments about enlisting the U.N., but it doesn't seem like many other countries are really that enthusiastic, to say the least.