Writing at Time, Joe Klein surveys the bounty that America can now harvest from its dalliance with neoconservatism. He starts with the still highly ambiguous outcome in Iraq, and continues:
There are other consequences of this profound misadventure. The return of the Taliban in Afghanistan is certainly one; if U.S. attention, and special forces, hadn’t been diverted from that primary conflict, the story in the Pashtun borderlands might be very different now. The credibility of the United States–slowly recovering due to the efforts of Barack Obama–is another, after a war promulgated by a gale of ignorance at best and chicanery at worst. The sense of the United States as a nation of tempered, honorable actions may never recover from the images of the past decade, especially the photographs from Abu Ghraib prison.
The replacement notion that it was our right and responsibility to rid Iraq of a terrible dictator–after the original casus belli of weapons of mass destruction evaporated–is a neo-colonialist obscenity. The fact that Bush apologists still trot out his “Forward Freedom Agenda” as an example of American idealism is a delusional farce. The “Freedom Agenda” brought us a Hamas government in Gaza, after a Palestinian election that no one but the Bush Administration wanted. It brought the empowerment of Hizballah in Lebanon. It raised the hopes of reformers across the region, soon dashed when the Bush Administration retreated, realizing that the probable outcome of democracy in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia would be the installation of Islamist parties that might prove more repressive than the dictatorships they replaced.
Andrew Sullivan supplements him: “$3 trillion; the end of America’s moral authority in wartime; the empowerment of Iran and Pakistan; the deaths of hundreds of thousands; the wounds of countless more.” Yet neocons still fill the pages of opinion in America’s best-known journals and newspapers. Their errors in judgment—not to mention flagrant dishonesty—go unremarked upon.