A pretty good analogy (NYT Select), actually, as analogies go:
But while the Bush team has been lecturing the Iraqi Shiites to limit de-Baathification in Baghdad, it was carrying out its own de-Democratization in the Justice Department in Washington. We would feel that we had failed in Iraq if we read that Sunnis were being purged from Iraq’s Ministry of Justice by Shiite hard-liners loyal to Moktada al-Sadr — but the moral equivalent of that is exactly what the Bush administration was doing here. What kind of example does that set for Iraqis?
And this wasn’t only a Washington problem. Read Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s outstanding “Imperial Life in the Emerald City,” which details the extent to which Americans recruited to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad were chosen, at times, for their loyalty toward Republicanism rather than expertise on Islamism. “Two C.P.A. staffers said that they were asked if they supported Roe v. Wade and if they had voted for George W. Bush,” he wrote.
But this degree of partisanship — loyalty over competence — was destructive in a much bigger way. It also deprived the Bush team of the support it needed when things in Iraq didn’t turn out to be as easy as it expected.
Only a united America could have the patience and fortitude to heal a divided Iraq — and we simply don’t have that today. Why? Because George Bush and Dick Cheney asked everyone to check their politics at the door when it came to Iraq, because victory there was so important — everyone but themselves. They argued that the war in Iraq was the central front of the central struggle of our age — an unusual war, a war against terrorism and the pathologies that produce it — but then they indulged in the most rancid politics as usual at home.