There's one thing I've long given President Bush credit for. Unsurprisingly he later shit all over that, too, but at the time it was the right thing. Immediately after 9/11 the basic narrative which was in part encouraged by Bush's rhetoric was that Afghanistan had been taken over by some bad people who attacked us, we're going to go over there and rescue the poor people in Afghanistan from those bad people, then we're going rebuild that country and turn it into a tremendous place.
And then... axis of evil and Iraq.
One thing which has long puzzled me is why Afghanistan wasn't enough for all the "liberal hawks" and people like Richard Cohen who wanted "therapeutic violence" (Spank them! Spank them!). The Beinarts of the world wanted a war and a grand humanitarian mission. They had one. It was Afghanistan. It was justifiable. We went and kicked some ass. And then we abandoned the grand humanitarian mission and went chasing after a shiny new war.
Why wasn't Afghanistan enough? Why were people who tried to point out that maybe we should stick around and try to fix that country before we went and busted up another one considered to be unserious dirty fucking hippies?
We had a chance to do all the things the Quiet Americans wanted us to do. Invade a country, get rid of their bad leaders, pave the streets with gold, and create a wonderful paradise which could be an example for the world.
Why couldn't we do that in Afghanistan?