A foreign-policy realist might have said, "Oops, no WMDs" — and then bugged out. We called Saddam's bluff, which was our perfect right given the stakes, but it's not in our interests to stay. That's realism. And it's funny to hear Ted Kennedy, Michael Moore, et al. keep invoking it.
How dare a liberal take a foreign policy position!
The next point is more interesting:
Bush decided to stay partly out of a different realist analysis of our national interest: A democratic Middle East, he believes, is the best chance for stopping the production of terrorists.
I have made a similar point here several times before, that there are not a lot of foreign-policy idealists or democratic globalists in the administration, and that they do in fact believe they are operating in the country's self-interests. The problem is that so many of these people have a fundamental misunderstanding of our national interests. Anyone who still believes that taking resources away from the war on terror in order to invade Iraq was in our self-interest is simply nuts.