The smart money says: Thomas Friedman, for this:
Wars are always clarifying, and what this war clarified most was the degree to which there were actually three bubbles that burst at the beginning of the 21st century: a stock-market bubble, a corporate-ethics bubble and a terrorism bubble….
It started with the suicide bombings against U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, was followed by attacks on the U.S. Embassies in East Africa and on the USS Cole, then ballooned with the rise of Palestinian suicide terrorism in Israel and finally peaked with al-Qaeda's attack of 9-11…. Some Muslim religious leaders even came up with rulings justifying the suicide bombing of civilians in pizza parlors. Arab media called the terrorists "martyrs." It was moral creative accounting: If you are weak, there is no limit on what you can do, and if you are strong -- like America and Israel -- you have no moral right to defend yourself. Worse, after 9-11, some in the Arab-Muslim world actually believed they had found a new balance of power with America -- through the suicide bomber….
For George W. Bush and Tony Blair, though, I think [the Iraq War] was about something larger but unstated. They were implicitly saying:
This terrorism bubble has come to threaten open societies and all they value. So, we're going to use Iraq -- because we can -- to demonstrate to you that we'll come right into the heart of your world to burst this bubble. Take note….
America sliced right through Iraq. It did so because we are a free-market democracy that is capable of amassing huge amounts of technical power. And it did so because our soldiers so cherish what they have that they were ready to fight house to house from Basra to Baghdad. That was the real shock and awe for Iraqis -- because the terrorism bubble said Nasdaq-obsessed Americans were so caught up with the frivolity of modern life, they had lost the will to fight.
The Arab-Muslim states need to understand that if they build up this terrorism bubble again -- and it may well happen -- America will burst it again…
I think it [the invasion of Iraq] was unquestionably worth doing, Charlie….
We needed to go over there, basically, um, and um, uh, take out a very big state right in the heart of that world and burst that [terrorism] bubble, and there was only one way to do it….
What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, um and basically saying, "Which part of this sentence don't you understand?" You don't think, you know, we care about our open society, you think this bubble fantasy, we're just gonna to let it grow?
Well, Suck. On. This.
Okay. That Charlie was what this war was about. We could've hit Saudi Arabia, it was part of that bubble. We coulda hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could…
Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?