With evil geniuses what you see is just the first instalment of what you're going to get.

That's because evil geniuses aren't one-dimensional. On the contrary, they play the long game. They're devious if not fiendishly clever in pursuit of their wicked goals, usually world domination. That's what makes them evil geniuses.

Take Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), the villain in the most recent James Bond movie, Skyfall. Early on he blows up MI6 headquarters. Your average terrorist would dine out on that for years, but for Silva it's just the first step.

The point of the exercise wasn't to reduce MI6 to rubble, with significant loss of life and disruption to Britain's intelligence and security network; it was to force MI6 to relocate to emergency underground headquarters, thus setting the scene for phase two of his master plan.


Or take Osama bin Laden. 9/11 wasn't an end in itself. The wider aim was to provoke America into an over-reaction that validated the al-Qaeda world view of the west wanting to dominate if not destroy Islam, and transformed the conflict into an overt global confrontation and drove young Muslims to the jihadist cause.

He succeeded, probably beyond his wildest dreams. America invaded and occupied two Muslim countries, Afghanistan and Iraq, but has failed to stabilise either, let alone transform them into functioning democracies. Militant Islamist organisations are popping up like mushrooms, here, there and everywhere.

And almost 13 years after the event, 9/11 continues to divide the West with no consensus on the extent of the Islamist threat or the best way of responding to it.

This strategy is as old as terrorism itself. Rebel guerrillas attack an army convoy killing soldiers, then melt back into the jungle; unable to engage the perpetrators, the army attacks a village suspected of providing the insurgents with moral and material support; sympathy for the rebel cause grows in the countryside.

Doubtless there were those in the American intelligence community who suspected what bin Laden was up to, but their warnings were ignored by the Bush Administration which saw the chance to obliterate several birds with one stone: depose Saddam Hussein, cement America's position as the sole superpower with an awe-inspiring display of military reach and firepower, and create a new paradigm in the Middle East by transforming Iraq into a go-ahead democracy.

Iraq's slide into sectarian war is further confirmation that bin Laden got it right and the Bush Administration got it horribly wrong.

We now have the architects of the Iraq war demanding that America makes the same mistake all over again in order to contain the damage done by the original mistake.

Here's Republican Senator John Cornyn via Twitter: "Sad but true. It took nearly 4500 American lives to win freedom for Iraq. It took one President to lose it."


The freedom Cornyn invokes is a particularly narrow and specific one: freedom from Saddam Hussein. It is not freedom from fear, want, corruption, displacement, destabilisation, social breakdown.

George W. Bush, Tony Blair and their neo-conservative acolytes cast the situation in Iraq as a choice between tyranny and freedom. Since the Iraqi people weren't in a position to make a choice, Bush and Blair made it for them. Except in Iraq and much of the Middle East, the opposite of tyranny isn't freedom, it's chaos. The Bush/Blair Middle East doctrine was based on the proposition that the way to defeat terrorism is by overthrowing tyranny. As events in Iraq, Syria and Libya have shown, this is a delusion. If defeating al- Qaeda and its affiliates is the number one priority, then the sensible thing to do, in realpolitik terms, is to ally yourself with regimes which are good at killing Islamists - like Saddam's and Bashar Al-Assad's - rather than bring them down.

Perhaps the only way to end Iraq's nightmare is to split the country into Sunni and Shia entities. In fact, partition might be the solution for other hopelessly divided nations which are at risk of becoming ungovernable because the two sides loathe each other and can't agree on anything.

For instance America. You could create a liberal, civilised country in the shape of an inverted horseshoe, beginning in New Orleans, going up the east coast to Boston, across the US-Canadian border via Chicago to Seattle and down the west coast to San Diego.

The rest could be what it yearns to be: a Bible bashing, gay shunning, cross burning, snake handling, gun crazy redneck paradise. You'd just have to make sure the right part got the nukes.