Here are the opening two paragraphs of Henderson's column, which Andrew refers to:
The fashionable left-wing view of former president George W. Bush is he invaded Muslim lands and instituted draconian national security legislation - the embodiment of which is the Guantanamo Bay military prison. According to the leftist line, all this was a manifestation of a world view labelled neo-conservatism.
Of course, al-Qaeda's attacks in the US - which culminated in the events of September 11, 2001 - took place before the ''coalition of the willing'' (US, Britain, Australia and Poland) invaded Iraq. Also, Bush was never a neo-conservative since he has been a political conservative all his adult life. But facts rarely suffice to diminish a convenient theory.
I've read this passage over and over but can't quite come to grips with it. Is he saying that the Bush Administration's mistakes (and crimes) can be absolved because Bush was provoked by al Qaeda? It's hard to be sure. And why does the fact that George W Bush 'has been a political conservative all his adult life' make it impossible to call him a neo-conservative? Couldn't Bush have changed his thinking over the years? His pre- and post-9/11 foreign policy statements certainly suggest that he changed his views toward a more neo-conservative orientation.
It's also worth pointing out that it wasn't only the 'fashionable left' that criticised Bush's war on terror policies. In this country, conservative realists like Owen Harries and Tom Switzer both opposed the Iraq war. In the US, no less a conservative luminary than William F Buckley was a critic. They were right, and the rest of the conservative commentariat was tragically wrong.