From the new book The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West
The United States is in pretty good shape as a nation state, but its overseas empire is clearly on the wane - not just in the Middle East but also in Central America and East Asia. Note that this empire is informal rather than formal in character. It’s a loose edifice, made up of military bases, multinational offices, cultural franchises and missionaries.
On the rise - or rather the rebound - are Russia and Iran, the energy empires. And rising even faster, of course, is China, the export empire. Note that all three have long imperial histories. I don't count the European Union as an empire; it’s just a loose confederacy-cum-customs union.
The war was supposed to be against the perpetrators of 9/11 and their associates. But after Afghanistan, that was rather lost from view. Otherwise, much more pressure would have been directed against the Al Qaeda network's main bases: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan and Western Europe (especially Germany). Extending the war to Iraq confused the issue, since Saddam's links to Al Qaeda were close to non-existent.
The most effective way of winning this war is not with soldiers in Humvees, much less air strikes. It's all about human intelligence - infiltrating and disrupting the network to prevent further 9/11s.
... very interesting interview from FrontPageMag; worth a read!