While it still amazes how comprehensively Iraq was bungled by the US occupation, it was always foreseeable that the invasion would proliferate, not combat, the clear and present threat to liberal values and international stability, which was jihadi extremism not Saddam Hussein. In that respect, the Bush administration and its exiguous allies in this misadventure might as well have taken a hammer to a ball of mercury.And in The New Yorker:
Iraq is now a broken state, the cockpit for a sectarian war between Sunni and Shia Muslims that not only takes up to 100 lives a day but threatens to suck in Iraq's neighbours. It is also a new and target-rich frontline for the itinerant holy warriors of the al-Qaeda franchise, creating a new generation of battle-hardened cadres skilled in the urban terrorism favoured by Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's strategist.
The dispiriting story here is that the US under President George W. Bush has lost the near-universal sympathy and solidarity provoked by 9/11. It has forfeited nearly all legitimacy in the Arab and Muslim worlds where, in one of the great dramas of our time, several recent polls reveal that democratic America is perceived as a greater threat than theocratic Iran.
The way the Bush administration has trampled on the international rule of law and Geneva conventions, while abrogating civil liberties and expanding executive power at home, has done huge damage not only to America's reputation but, more broadly, to the attractive power of western values.
The wider counterpart to our traumatized togetherness at home was an astonishing burst abroad of what can only be called pro-Americanism....No one realistically expected that the mood of fellow-feeling and coöperation would long persist in the extraordinarily powerful form it took in the immediate wake of September 11th.
What few expected was how comprehensively that initial spirit would be ruined by the policies and the behavior of our government, culminating in, though hardly limited to, the disastrous occupation of Iraq. This shouldn’t have been so surprising. George W. Bush campaigned in 2000 as a “compassionate conservative,” one who recognized that government was not the enemy, praised bipartisanship, proclaimed his intention to “change the tone in Washington,” and advocated a foreign policy of humility and respect. None of that happened.