The good professor makes many good points in this piece, but his first defense is the most striking:

Kabul and the war against the Taliban had not sufficed, for those were Arabs who struck America on 9/11. A war of deterrence had to be waged against Arab radicalism, and Saddam Hussein had drawn the short straw. He had not ducked, he had not scurried for cover. He openly mocked America's grief, taunted its power.

Ajami frames the war as a broad signal to Arabs that they would be held collectively responsible for the acts of 19 Saudis. Saddam's fault was that he was an Arab - not a Jihadist, but an Arab. And the war was a war primarily to punish, not to reform.

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