Swopa from Needlenose told us about this in 2004, and tells us again.

As I wrote just over three years ago, “the war’s goal wasn’t to project American ideas into the Middle East — it was to project American power there.” But there’s more to it than that.

September 11th was the triggering event that let the neocons Dubya had surrounded himself with take the PNAC plan for a “Pax Americana” (a phrase the 2000 report uses several times, describing it as a “strategic goal”) off the bookshelf of right-wing war porn and turn it into America’s official foreign policy.

You’d better not cross us, or we’ll spend the better part of a year haggling in the UN to build an international coalition, then tie most of our army down for years rebuilding your country isn’t all that terrifying a threat, is it? That’s why the Bushite power axis adopted an alternate message: Cross us, and we’ll knock your head sideways so fast you’ll have no idea what happened. We don’t need anyone’s permission, we don’t need a huge invasion force, and we don’t need to clean up any mess afterward.”

That was the message the Iraq war was intended to communicate. And that’s why we went in the way we did — without a net, so to speak. Because it couldn’t look like a lucky accident if things went well; we had to show that we knew how easy it would be … and how easy it would be to duplicate those results in any country we chose.

Unfortunately for the neocons (and the rest of us), things didn’t turn out that way. Here’s how I ended that same post:

Of course, in truth we’ve wound up demonstrating much the opposite — but those are the breaks, I guess, if you’re a neocon. Besides, those guys always have a fallback position. Maximum chaos in Iraq just demonstrates how dangerous the world is, and how we need ever-higher defense budgets and more military bases to keep it under control, doesn’t it? And now that America’s made a commitment to get involved over there, why, it would be cowardly to turn our backs now! So they can claim victory either way … it’s just the innocent people caught in the middle (here, and in Iraq) who lose.

Come to think of it, those are pretty much the arguments the war-hawks are making now, isn’t it?