Saturday, February 11, 2006
The radical threat to the United States is at home.
President Bush said in his State of the Union address last month that the aim of his administration is to defeat radical Islam. This was a preposterous statement. Shortly afterward, radical Islam began burning embassies from Afghanistan and Indonesia to Damascus and Beirut. The United States is not going to defeat that.
There are a great many dismaying aspects of Bush's administration, but nothing more so than this combination of the unachievable. It is nothing more than giving a name and purpose to the military campaigns that already have the Army and Marine Corps near exhaustion and a major part of the world in turmoil.
The Defense Department and the White House have decided that the United States is now conducting "the Long War" rather than what previously was known as the War against Terror, then as the Global Struggle against Violent Extremism, and then a war against "the Universal Adversary," as a Pentagon study reveals.
What was originally to be a matter of quick and exemplary revenge, with lightning attacks and acclaimed victories, has now become, we are told, the long war whose end cannot be foreseen. We finally hear officially what many more enlightened citizens knew: that the U.S. will be in Iraq for another decade or so, with perhaps as many as 100,000 soldiers.
The citizen is implicitly told to expect the current suspension of constitutional norms, disregard for justice and defiance of limits on presidential power as traditionally construed, to continue indefinitely. We are in a new age, America's leaders say.
In his State of the Union address, the President referred to "a nation now held hostage by a small clerical elite that is isolating and repressing its people." He must have been referring to his own nation.