My worry is that on the home front the war is falling prey to lack-of-mission creep -- that, in the absence of any real urgency and direction, the "long war" (to use the administration's new and unsatisfactory term) is degenerating into nothing but bureaucratic tedium, media doom-mongering and erratic ad hoc oppositionism. To be sure, all these have been present since Day One: The press have been insisting Iraq is teetering on the brink of civil war for three years and yet, despite the urgings of CNN and the BBC, those layabout Iraqis stubbornly refuse to get on with it. They're happy to teeter for another three years, no matter how many "experts" stamp their foot and pout their lips and say "I want my civil war now." The New York Times ran a headline after the big bombing: "More Clashes Shake Iraq; Political Talks Are In Ruins." The "political talks" resumed the day after publication. The "ruins" were rebuilt after 48 hours.
The quagmire isn't in Iraq but at home. For five years, beginning with the designation of "war on terror," the president's public presentation has been consistent: Islam is a great religion, religion of peace, marvelous stuff, White House Ramadan Banquet the highlight of the calendar, but, sadly, every barrel has one or two bad apples, even Islam believe it or not, and once we've hunted those down we'll join the newly liberated peace-loving Muslim democracies in a global alliance of peace-loving peaceful persons. Most sentient beings have been aware that there is, to put it mildly, a large element of evasion about this basic narrative, but only now is it being explicitly rejected by all sides. William F. Buckley and George Will have more or less respectfully detached themselves from the insane idealism of shoving liberty and democracy down people's throats whether they want it or not. And, on the ports deal with Dubai, a number of other commentators I respect plus a stampede of largely ignorant weathervane pols have denounced the administration for endangering American security on the eastern seaboard. I can't see that: The only change is that instead of being American stevedores employed by a British company they'll now be American stevedores employed by a United Arab Emirates company.