2/27/11 at 10:00 AM
They’re exhilarating, of course. But from an American perspective, the revolutions transforming the Middle East are also deeply sad. They’re sad because they underscore what a terrible waste the last decade of American foreign policy has been. Since September 11, the United States has spent more than $1 trillion in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those wars have cost thousands of young Americans their lives and maimed many more. And for what? We were told (and I, for one, believed) that in jihadist terrorism we faced a threat of epic military and ideological power. We were told that unless we toppled anti-American regimes and imposed American ideals, the military and ideological balance would tip decisively in our enemies’ favor. “I will not wait on events,” vowed George W. Bush in his 2002 State of the Union address. We were told to wage war because time was not on our side.