What, then, made america great?

I found this article via John Lemon. First it states this:

The current situation in Iraq is not really about terrorism. There has been an extraordinary push by the Bush administration to make a connection between Al-Queda and Saddam that, unfortunately, far too many have swallowed. There is no connection. There is no proof. We won't find any when we go to Iraq. We won't hear of any if we capture Osama himself.

Which is wrong. Then it states:

There are two things the United States wants in the Middle East: open markets and democracies. This is a simple goal – for neo-conservatives. It makes sense to them. After all, it's worked so well for us that there's no reason to believe it won't work just as well over there. A desire for open markets isn't like the empire-building of old; it simply has the exact same effect.

The Bush administration gets to dress up this cause in any number of different robes. We are freeing the oppressed people of Iraq. We are promoting democracy in a region defined by monarchies and tribalism. We are bringing the ideas of human rights, free markets and freedom to a region that sorely needs it.

We tried with carrots, but now it's time for the stick.

Let's not fool ourselves. The Bush administration has one goal in mind in Middle East. It is to define the future of these countries in terms of structure both governmentally and in their markets. We will do it with a gun in hand and blinders on to the rest of the world.

I just don't understand this. Why is this bad? I must have missed the main argument. Will life for the Iraqis get worse? Surely no one will argue that. Should the U.S. never ever change foreign policy practices, even as the world changes? After 9-11, I find it hard to believe anyone would argue that. It almost sounds as if he is saying that Saddam Hussein has done nothing wrong.

But my real question is this…how did America become so great? So many people think we shouldn't export democracy and capitalism. And sure, there are some good reasons to think it will be a difficult road to do so. But if democracy and capitalism didn't make America great, what did? Luck?