By Patrick Appel

A paragraph from an evaluation of the Bush years over at Thomas P.M. Barnett's place:

Where Bush-Cheney does deserve credit, despite their many errors in judgment, is in their staying power, or strategic patience. But even here I'm loathe to give anything but a split verdict, because another six-to-nine months on the diplomatic run-up to Iraq and we could have had a lot better buy-in from clearly interested great powers, all of whom were not interested in a Vietnam-like quagmire if it meant they'd be shut out of the economic endgame.

As it is, it's interesting now to watch Russia, China, and Iran consistently win infrastructure-building contracts in Iraq, because it only proves that good things come to those who placate. Then again, that was also true for the Bush White House regarding the al Qaeda-infused, Sunni-based insurgency inside Iraq. By sticking it out long enough, despite the high casualties, we simply waited long enough to take advantage of the Salafi jihadists' natural tendency to go overboard with the locals. Abu Musab Zarqawi's impatience to turn Iraq into al Qaeda's global cause celeb led to brutality that eventually alienated Iraq's Sunni tribes, yielding the "Anbar awakening" that signaled the beginning of General Petraeus' somewhat successful rollback (or is it buyback?) of al Qaeda's presence there.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.