In 2001, the war against terrorism was a cause that united not only virtually all Americans but most of the world. Today, that cause, as redefined and expanded by President Bush, has become bitterly divisive at home and abroad.
Just two days before the anniversary, the nine Democrats seeking Bush's job in 2004 took turns blasting him during a debate in Baltimore, denouncing his policies for defending the country as a 'miserable failure' and an 'abomination.' At the United Nations, the U.S. was at sword's point with Germany and France. And in England %u2014 America's staunchest ally since Sept. 11 %u2014 the attacks' second anniversary was marked by the release of a parliamentary investigation of Prime Minister Tony Blair that underscored the tensions in that nation over the way the struggle against terrorism has evolved.
In domestic politics and international diplomacy, the climate today bears little resemblance to the one that last week's commemorations briefly recalled. More division on both fronts was perhaps inevitable as the attack receded in time and parochial interests resurfaced. But the principal dividing line between the unity of 2001 and the discord of 2003 has been Bush's decision, with Blair's support, to identify Iraq as the next front in the war against terrorism and launch an invasion that deposed Saddam Hussein.
History may yet record that Bush's decision produced a safer world. But today, even the war's supporters have fewer illusions about its costs. Some of those costs are measured in the steady drumbeat of U.S. casualties and the jaw-dropping $87 billion Bush requested to fund security and reconstruction in Iraq during the next year alone. But the most profound cost has been the fracturing, at home and abroad, of the common purpose that rose from the rubble of the fallen World Trade Center.
Name of Blog points to a Washington Post piece today ripping the various Iraq justifications apart.