I have endorsed preemption, both in the abstract and as applied to [Saddam Hussein]. But in doing so, I am aware of its special difficulties: error is likely, and uncertainty is inescapable. […] That Saddam Hussein had a WMD infrastructure still left his plans ambiguous.
These difficulties place special responsibility on a government that preempts. It must act in as transparent a manner as possible, without guile. It must first establish the validity of its actions to its own citizenry. Second, because Americans heed so much what others think, the opinion of the targeted country's population also matters, as does the opinion of other key countries.
In this regard, the Bush administration has fared poorly, convincing only half of Americans and far fewer among most other peoples, including Iraqis and Britons.
The administration is trying to build democracy much too quickly. A mere 22 months, for example, passed between the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and elections for the prime minister of Iraq; in my view, the interval should have been closer to 22 years.
The Bush administration has a visionary boldness but not the requisite operational caution.
—Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes, in the November Commentary