Just read Welcome to the Green Zone by William Langewiesche. I recommend it for anybody who wants to get past the partisan spin and get a feeling for what Iraq was really like for those who tried to "reconstruct" it.
The piece left one lasting impression on me: Imagine for a moment that you have a country with a powerful political movement. This movement has nationalistic tendencies ("we know best", "people in other countries are corrupt and/or incompetent"). It has religious fundamentalist tendencies and sees the world in simple moral terms ("we are good, terrorists are evil"). And, curiously given its power, it is constantly on the defensive; it typically responds with ignorance or counter-attack to both suggestions from outsiders and criticism from insiders.
Now picture this movement being responsible for invading another country with the aim to create a democracy. What will happen? How will they go about it? Welcome to the Green Zone gives you a pretty good idea, and it mostly confirms what you would expect.