“After the attacks, Americans asked, ‘Why do they hate us?’ This turned out to be the wrong line of inquiry. The most pressing questions were about us, not them: our leaders, our institutions, our ability to act as a cohesive nation and make rational decisions, our power to take action abroad in a way that would not be a self-defeating waste. Starting with the intelligence failures that did not foresee the attacks, every major American institution flunked the test of the September 11th decade. The media got the W.M.D.s wrong. The military failed to plan for chaos in postwar Iraq. Congress neglected its oversight duties. The political system produced no statesmen. C.E.O.s and financiers couldn’t see past short-term profits. The Bush Administration had one major success: it succeeded in staving off another terrorist attack in America. It botched everything else.”
More thoughts from Packer on this subject here.