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The intricacies surrounding the dealings with Iraq make the actions easily misunderstood. The key to appreciating the calculus of the actions of the past six years lies in properly defining the dynamics of the prior status quo.
What had existed in the middle-east for over half a century represented an untenable paradigm. Countries not having all the elements requisite of functioning nation-states were placed in environments of global importance and inherent conflicting interests.
The artificial countries left behind by departing colonial powers were by design created to counterbalance each other and to act as checks and balances. What this engendered was an endless cycle of gridlock and stalemate which had no outlet for repressed aspiration except for a twisted form of extroverted-self-loathing which manifested/manifests itself in the form of expansionist terrorism. What a half-century of changing global conditions proved was that the mid-east paradigm of stalemate could not move on its own and would only spin-off more and more extreme forms of impotent violence.
The danger of such a situation for both democratic global powers and expanding functional democracies outside of the region was that the functions of open societies require an environment free from the coercion of nihilistic sub-cultures. (Dictatorships, on the other hand, thrive in environments of instability.)
What many around the globe considered to be tractable levels of disturbance emanating from the mid-east have actually had a much higher level of threat to them. The previous half century had shown that coercion by tactical instability rises to the level of strategic coercion against open societies.
It was for these reasons that the dysfunctional paradigm of the mid-east had to be transformed. Classically speaking, the Gordian Knot had to be cut. Further; as important as this is for the functioning of the world’s largest open society it is still more important to countries whose intended future growth is premised on an open-society model.
History will show that Bush was strategically correct but tactically inept.
Bush made the mistake of thinking that Iraq was a country and Iraqis as a group were capable of economics-based thinking. What a dork - dismantling the security apparatus first and leaving a power vacuum then thinking about how to pick up the pieces.