Belmont Club has a fascinating analysis of the U.S. Middle Eastern strategy that I highly recommend. Here's an excerpt, but go read the whole thing:
The really fascinating aspect of both men's analysis is the idea that freedom and politics are really going to be the agents of destruction for the "ancien regime of tyrant and terrorist", not as a figure of speech but as literal truth. The role of the US military would be strategically indirect and subtle: to ensure that the old regimes cannot contain the forces that would naturally spring up against them.
In this view, victory against terror need not take the form of the 101st Airborne marching into Teheran. It would be enough to merely hold the ring in Iraq to win over the Mullahs. Nations often return to strategies which they are most familiar with. Iran instinctively turned to the Lebanese experience to model its confrontation with America. It was natural that the United States might remember Europe and Korea when at war again. In both cases America won a decisive victory not by marching into Moscow or Pyongyang, but by merely ensuring that Western Europe and South Korea developed separately. In Iraq the old was new again.
John Burns of the New York Times describes the potential of the Iraqi election to rock Damascus, Teheran and even Washington.