Hubris is the root of all evil, says Peter Beinart, or at least of all failures in foreign affairs. Delusions of dominance led to disaster: World War I (President Wilson), Vietnam (President Johnson), and of course President George W. Bush and Iraq, which he says Bush entered "because America overestimated its military and economic and ideological power as a result of a whole series of successes" as the sole superpower in the post-Cold War world. Success leads to "bubbles of hubris" which then burst in failure: a semi-right theory that rings not wholly true.

It took hubris in Europe to start World War I, but it was hardly hubristic for Wilson to end it: His hubris came later (and was caused in part by his stroke). Johnson thought he was fulfilling the Truman Doctrine (which worked in Europe, not Asia), and which called for holding the line, and not conquest.

Beinart sees Iraq as a war of choice based on hubris, but Bush saw it as a war of necessity, based on survival. "It was because we had so much military self-confidence in 2003 that ... the Bush administration allowed itself to ... create this sense of deep, deep fear about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction," Beinart said to Hugh Hewitt.

But Bush developed this "deep sense of fear" when he looked down at ground zero and began to imagine what might have happened if one of those terrorists in play on Sept. 11 had possessed even one very small bomb.

The cry of the left after Sept. 11 was that Bush had failed to "connect the dots" before the attack and take pre-emptive measures to stop it. Now, he connected the dots that trailed into the future, and most of them led to Iraq -- which had invaded Iran and Kuwait, built a reactor (till Israel zapped it), used chemical weapons against its own people, was a protector of terrorists, and hated the United States (and the Bushes) for its humiliation in the first Gulf War.

If anyone was going to hand off a bomb or a vial of gas to a branch of al Qaeda, Iraq seemed a prime candidate, and when it refused to admit U.N. inspectors or account for the weapons it was known to have had, it became a prime suspect instead.

Iraq hadn't threatened the United States, or used weapons against it, but Cuba hadn't threatened it either when President Kennedy risked nuclear warfare to have its nuclear warheads removed. He assumed their possession by an enemy within striking distance was too great a threat to his country.

Now, striking distance meant any place on the planet, and the warhead could be a small vial of anthrax. Kennedy thought he would have courted impeachment if he left the threat standing. Bush made the same call on Iraq.

Bush came in as realist, who wanted a policy that was "humble, but strong," and changed very quickly when faced with an attack that savaged his country and killed thousands of innocents. From then on, his job was to stop this from being repeated, which led to pre-emption, and then nation building, but this was the consequence, not the intent.

He accomplished his mission: We were not attacked, Saddam does not threaten, and Iraq is a democracy, though on its terms, not ours.

The war was not caused by hubris, and it was not a disaster, though for a while it looked like it was becoming one. The error was not on the part of the president, but of the writer, who bends facts to serve his convenience, and his ideology.

Examiner Columnist Noemie Emery is contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of "Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families."