No, it's not what you might think. Read on, Macduff.
Friends from across the pond are still on their ear (and mine) about the Iraq war. They'd punish Tony Blair for it in the upcoming May 5 election if the Conservatives weren't so comically clueless or if the mommy party (health care, public transportation, the environment, etc., etc.), the Liberal Democrats, were ready to govern a Great Nation.
Labour looks to take 40% of the vote, the Tories 30%, and the Lib Dems as high as 25%. Still, it shows that like most of Europe, the UK leans far more heavily to port than starboard.
So needless to say, they despise George W. Bush.
From what I read of the European press, the whole story is simply not told. It's not even told much here in the US. To understand what the US (and the UK) faced after 9-11, it's helpful to look at Usama bin Laden's 1996 Declaration of War.
In it, you see al-Qaeda's two strongest recruiting points were a) the US/UK (in other words, "Christian") military presence in "The Land of Two Holy Places (Mecca and Medina)," Saudi Arabia, which were needed there to keep an eye on Saddam and enforce the "no-fly zones," and b) the deaths by starvation of a half-million innocent women and children that the "containment" sanctions on Saddam caused (more on that here).
And of course, in the largest sense, the hopelessness engendered by the Western-supported tyrannical governments of the Muslim world.
Al-Qaeda offered itself as a remedy to all those things, and could not be engaged only with force because they were essentially correct.
Bin Laden was right, but we could hardly admit that.
But removing Saddam once and for all and the subsequent "democracy initiative" answered bin Laden completely. Our troops are out of Saudi, the sanctions that cost innocent lives are a thing of the past, and freedom is on the march in the Muslim world.
Al-Qaeda has been transformed from being "the base" (its literal translation from Arabic) of a worldwide liberation movement to just another would-be tyranny among many. Bin Laden now kills more Muslims than "Crusaders," and world Islam has realized for itself that bin Laden is not their champion, but their enemy.
It was not our intention that he escape justice, but as it turns out, Usama bin Laden is more valuable to the future of peace alive than dead.