A friend just e-mailed me this piece by William Shawcross from late March. The whole thing is worth reading, but two extracts are worth repeating here:
“[On Bernard Lewis]He compared the influence of the Wahhabi cult in Saudi Arabia, whence many of the 9/11 Terrorists came, to that of the Klu Klux Klan. Imagine, he said, if the Klan had taken over Texas and all its schools and had missionaries throughout the world teaching the perverted Christianity of the Klan. That’s what the Wahhabis have done to Saudi Arabia. There are Wahhabi teachers indoctrinating the young in many countries, particularly in former Soviet republics and in Germany. Lewis was not sanguine about solving that problem. With people like Bin Laden no compromise is possible. Their struggle, they believe, can only end in the victory of God¹s word over the United States, the house of war, the house of unbelievers…
In all, some 200,000 people died in the Balkans on Europe¹s watch. It was America that stopped that.
In 2001, it was only America that could liberate Afghanistan from the Taliban.
The results in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan are not perfect. But all those countries are better off than they were, and only America could make those changes.
These and other examples show that American participation is essential to the world. American power is often the only thing that stands between civility and genocide, order and mayhem.”
It seems so, although I doubt if Shawcross would be impressed by some of the mis-steps (to use a mild word) that have characterized the US occupation of post-war Iraq.