In a wonderful article in The Nation Sjursen asks us to recognize reality. Our attempt to bring democracy to the Middle East has been a failure. We have done battle in six Middle East countries and come up essentially empty handed.
He asks "Has it worked? Is anybody, including Americans, safer? Few in power even bother to ask such questions. But the data is there. The Department of State counted just 348 terrorist attacks worldwide in 2001 compared with 11,774 attacks in 2015. That’s right: At best, America’s 15-year “war on terror” failed to significantly reduce international terrorism; at worst, its actions helped make matters 30 times worse."
He concludes: "First, false lessons and misbegotten collective assumptions contributed to and created much of today’s regional mess. As a result, it’s long past time to reassess recent history and challenge long-held suppositions. Second, policymakers badly overestimated the efficacy of American power, especially via the military, to shape foreign peoples and cultures to their desires. In all of this, the agency of locals and the inherent contingency of events were conveniently swept aside."