President Bush and Vice President Cheney have taken the American people down a new and fearsome path.
The mid-east has been a particularly dangerous and complex region since the Suez crisis of the mid 50s.
This is the region of the world where inter-bloc power politics meets swirling regional antagonisms.
The whole situation is highly pressurized by the presence of oil and the need of all sides to control this resource. To their credit, Bush and Cheney wanted to simplify the situation and establish an American position that was unassailably strong and one that was based on a robust and unalterably pro-American Iraq.
For many, the 9/11 fiasco, the memory of gas station lines and the unrelenting hostility of the Shiites and the Palestinians made the Bush-Cheney siren song a desirable policy, something that should at least be given a chance to succeed.
The difficulty comes from the fact that Bush and Cheney set out to accomplish something that is impossible.
This is not a matter of 20-20 hindsight, as many conservatives would have it.
At the analyst level in the CIA before the war, there was widespread recognition that the Iraqi WMD program had been contained and destroyed.
Similarly, in academe, among many military thinkers and in most intelligence agencies, there were widely publicized views that such factors as Arab nationalism, religious sectarianism, the wide dissemination of well armed militias, tribalism and whole stew of centripetal forces would create chaos in the absence of an authoritarian Iraqi regime.
The social, political and economic conditions in Iraq simply are not compatible for a nascent democracy.