In a May 24, 2010 editorial in the London daily Al-Hayat, the paper's editor-in-chief, Ghassan Charbel, wrote that the Americans came to Iraq without understanding the nature of this country and region. They thought, he says, that they could topple Saddam's regime and rebuild Iraq like they rebuilt Japan and Germany, establishing an attractive democracy that would tempt the neighboring countries to emulate the Iraqi model. However, they failed to understand that the peoples of the Middle East "'are made up of different races, sects and denominations, which drag behind them a history of clashes, fear, and attempts to eradicate and exterminate one another, and that our real identity – like our loyalties – is either smaller or greater than the area of the countries we inhabit."
Charbel adds that the failure in Iraq is not only American, since the Iraqis also took part in the "carnival of despoliation."
Following are excerpts from an English translation of the article published in Al-Hayat:
"The Americans Came to Iraq from Another Planet"
"The Americans came to Iraq from another planet. They missed the fact that this part of the world was living in a different historical period. They had a deluded [notion] that they could perform a deep surgical procedure on the region by removing Saddam Hussein's regime.
"The Iraqi politician smiles. Experience shows that the Americans were wrong in interpreting [the] people's demands and feelings. They believed that toppling Saddam Hussein would allow them to rebuild Iraq as they did Germany and Japan. They forgot about the different circumstances, the degree of economic and social development and the religious and cultural differences.
"In their faraway offices, the planners [dreamt] a naïve dream. They believed that democracy was the only dream of the people in the region, and that the mere fact of opening the Iraqi window would encourage the Iranians and Arabs to take to the streets in emulation of the Iraqi model."
The Americans "Did Not Understand that Our Real Homelands Are Our Sects and Regions"
"They did not know that we are made up of different races, sects, and denominations, which drag behind them a history of clashes, fear and attempts to eradicate and exterminate one another, and that our real identity – like our loyalties – is either smaller or greater than the area of the countries we inhabit. They did not understand that our real homelands are our sects and the regions [inhabited by people like ourselves].
"I listened to officials, politicians, and intellectuals, who all agreed that the U.S. role in Iraq has become secondary, that the invasion succeeded at toppling Saddam Hussein's regime but failed to build an attractive democratic model that would entice the region's inhabitants to embrace democracy and change and live in pluralism and rule of law. And then [they added that] the Americans were not a charity organization to begin with."
"The Talk about the U.S.'s Failure Sometimes Aims to Cover Up the Failure of the Iraqis Themselves"
"Those visiting Iraq also hear bitter confessions from politicians and intellectuals. The talk about the U.S.'s failure sometimes aims to cover up the failure of the Iraqis themselves, their failure to seize the opportunity and to quickly unite around a state with [proper] institutions and rule of law.
"One politician places the Iraqis themselves on the list of those who have despoiled Iraq. He speaks of the horrors of the violence on the streets, and of the looting of ministries and institutions. This politician denounces the foreign parties that despoiled Iraq and continue to do so, but he considers the catastrophe to lie in the Iraqi forces' contribution to the drawn-out carnival of despoliation.
"The future of Iraq is uncertain, as many admit. One also hears that Iraq used to be a player and has become a playground, used to be a country and has become an arena, that the dream of a strong Iraq [standing] once again at the Eastern gates of the Arab World is a dream that can no longer be fulfilled, and that restoring the Iraqi side of the Iraq-Iran-Turkey triangle will take a long time – aside from the fact that the return of a strong Iraq seems impossible due to [Iraq's] structure and the changes it has suffered."
 http://www.daralhayat.com/portalarticlendah/145262, May 24, 2010. The original English has been lightly edited for clarity.