By Francis Fukuyama
Sun Feb 19, 2006
As we approach the third anniversary of the onset of the Iraq war, it seems very unlikely that history will judge either the intervention itself or the ideas animating it kindly. By invading Iraq, the Bush administration created a self-fulfilling prophecy: Iraq has now replaced Afghanistan as a magnet, a training ground and an operational base for jihadist terrorists, with plenty of American targets to shoot at. The United States still has a chance of creating a Shiite-dominated democratic Iraq, but the new government will be very weak for years to come; the resulting power vacuum will invite outside influence from all of Iraq's neighbors, including Iran. There are clear benefits to the Iraqi people from the removal of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, and perhaps some positive spillover effects in Lebanon and Syria. But it is very hard to see how these developments in themselves justify the blood and treasure that the United States has spent on the project to this point.
The administration's second-term efforts to push for greater Middle Eastern democracy, introduced with the soaring rhetoric of Bush's second Inaugural Address, have borne very problematic fruits.
--- red-state Americans whose sons and daughters are fighting and dying in the Middle East - supported the Iraq war because they believed that their children were fighting to defend the United States against nuclear terrorism, not to promote democracy.
A recent Pew poll indicates a swing in public opinion toward isolationism; the percentage of Americans saying that the United States "should mind its own business" has never been higher since the end of the Vietnam War.
How did the neoconservatives end up overreaching to such an extent that they risk undermining their own goals?
Francis Fukuyama teaches at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. This essay is adapted from his book "America at the Crossroads," which will be published this month by Yale University Press.
Update (6.20.2006 10:00 pm) ::
Mahablog has a very good round of comments about this essay and it's author in Patriotism v. Francis Fukuyama
. If you are interested in the 'big picture' aspect as Maha puts it, then her post is a must read.