Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Independent Online Edition > Americas
It has taken more than three years, tens of thousands of Iraqi and American lives, and $200bn (£115bn) of treasure - all to achieve a chaos verging on open civil war. But, finally, the neo-conservatives who sold the United States on this disastrous war are starting to utter three small words. We were wrong.
The second thoughts have spread across the conservative spectrum, from William Buckley, venerable editor of The National Review to Andrew Sullivan, once editor of the New Republic, now an influential commentator and blogmeister. The patrician conservative columnist George Will was gently sceptical from the outset. He now glumly concludes that all three members of the original "axis of evil" - not only Iran and North Korea but also Iraq - "are more dangerous than when that term was coined in 2002".
Neither Mr Buckley nor Mr Sullivan concedes that the decision to topple Saddam was intrinsically wrong. But "the challenge required more than [President Bush's] deployable resources," the former sadly recognises. "The American objective in Iraq has failed."
For Mr Sullivan, today's mess is above all a testament to American overconfidence and false assumptions, born of arrogance and naïveté. But he too asserts, in a column in Time magazine this week, that all may not be lost.
Of all the critiques however, the most profound is that of Francis Fukuyama, in his forthcoming book, America at the Crossroads. Its subtitle is "Democracy, Power and the Neo-Conservative Legacy" - and that legacy, Mr Fukuyama argues, is fatally poisoned.