Patrick Buchanan got it right in Where the Right Went Wrong: How Neoconservatives Subverted the Reagan Revolution and Hijacked the Bush Presidency. He writes that Bush's posture after 9/11 is unconstitutional and harmful to the U.S. Nowhere in the Constitution is the president afforded the power of making preemptive war, yet his approach was to declare a virtual battle against evil, rather than going after the perpetrator of the act itself. Ignoring precedent and reality (numerous countries have developed chemical and nuclear capacities in the twentieth century despite U.S. policy to prevent such a spread even among our friends with no retribution,) Bush put several countries on notice they would be liable for regime change if they tried to enter that circle of countries.
"To attain Churchillian heights, Bush's speechwriters had taken him over the top." They defined four elements in his speech:
1. The war on terror is a war between good and evil and will not end until all elements of evil are eradicated;
2. Every nation must decide if it is with us or against us, if not with us they are with the terrorists;
3. Any nation that funds or assists any group we decide is a terrorist will be considered a terrorist state subject to attack;
4. Iran, Iraq, and Korea will not be permitted weapons of mass destruction and we would engage in preemptive strikes and wars to prevent their acquisition by those countries.
These elements caused the coalitions that had been created after 9/11 to "crumble." He went further in a speech to West Point graduates in 2002. The thrust of the speech was that the United States would never permit any country in the world to threaten its hegemony and would use its military to prevent any country from becoming greater than we are.
"Containment is not possible when unbalanced dictators can deliver those weapons on missiles.... If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long." Ignoring history (containment worked with such lunatics as Mao and Stalin) Bush is making a case for perpetual war.
How did this happen? Buchanan argues that Bush's inexperience and ignorance of foreign policy permitted the neoconservatives to hijack his foreign policy Buchana goes on with a more traditional (for him) jeremiad against free trade that he (and Ralph Nader - now there's a ticket) will lead to a us become a non-industrial low-paying service center economy unable to compete.
While I have rarely been in agreement with Buchanan, this time he got it right.