It seems clearer and clearer that a key driving force behind this war is a neoconservative plan to transform the entire Middle East—a reverse domino theory in which regime change in Iraq triggers regime change, and ultimately democratization, across the region. As Joshua Marshall recently noted in the Washington Monthly, this plan is mega-ambitious and very risky. Its success depends on lots of variables falling the right way. We can only hope that the people who hatched this idea and sold it to President Bush have due respect for contingency and aren't prone to wishful thinking.
Yet some of the plan's most influential advocates—Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and (former) ad-hoc Pentagon adviser Richard Perle—are among those who most consistently understated the difficulty of war. Perle was egregious: "Support for Saddam, including within his military organization, will collapse at the first whiff of gunpowder." Given the failure of this first step in Perle's master plan to unfold as guaranteed, I'm not feeling too good about the subsequent steps—the part where Iraq's authoritarian neighbors yield to benign democracy through some magical process that has never been officially spelled out.
Robert Wright, Slate.