There were those (such as this newspaper) who supported the Iraq war solely because of the danger that a Saddam Hussein with a biological or atomic bomb would indeed have posed. But Mr Bush and Mr Blair refused after the war to be embarrassed by the absence of the weapons that had so alarmed them beforehand. They stressed instead all the other reasons why it had been a good idea to overthrow Mr Hussein. In Los Angeles last month Mr Blair argued that the invasion was all about supporting Islam’s moderates against its reactionaries and bolstering democracy against dictatorship.

Such arguments no longer sell in the West, let alone the Muslim world. If it was all about dictatorship, what about the dictatorship the West continues to embrace in Saudi Arabia, and the quasi-dictatorship in Pakistan? If it was about helping Islam’s moderates against its reactionaries, what is so clever about stepping in to someone else’s civil war?

Besides, the horrors of pre-invasion Iraq had nothing to do with Islam’s inner demons. Mr Hussein’s was a secular dictatorship in which Islamists of all stripes kept their heads down. It is true, and it is commendable, that once America and Britain had toppled Mr Hussein, they helped to organise free elections. They are right to support Iraq’s new government and to make the argument for democracy elsewhere in the Arab world. But portraying the whole enterprise as if it had from the start been all about an experiment in democracy just makes Muslims crosser. By what right do you invade someone else’s country in order to impose a pattern of government?  ~The Economist

The Economist was one of the last real holdouts of Iraq war loyalism in the European press, and its description of that war as a “total failure” marks a new low in the administration’s ability to convince even those Europeans who are ideologically and politically most favourable to his foreign policy that the war is going well or that he and his administration have even the foggiest idea of what they’re doing.  With the all-but-complete defection of the editorial pages of The Economist to the camp of the skeptics and critics on Iraq, one increasingly gets the sense that the whole of the British public (not just the 70% who opposed the war in the first place) is tiring of Mr. Bush’s one-trick act.  His administration’s redoubled efforts to bludgeon war critics with preposterous propagandistic references to appeasement and “Islamic fascism” will only confirm Economist types in their loss of confidence.