The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now — with somebody — and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.
But if America didn’t successfully eliminate violent extremists in Afghanistan or Iraq even with tens of thousands of boots on the ground, if extremists in those countries began to gain more power as soon as Americans left, if we didn’t manage to successfully train their armies even during a years-long deployment of our best forces, why do we think that a foe Chuck Hagel characterizes as the most formidable we’ve seen in the War on Terror can be beat with airstrikes and a few hundred advisers? Or are they not as formidable as Team Obama has led us to believe? The White House may have an internally consistent logic that they’re not sharing. Evaluating it is difficult so long as they talk to us like we’re stupid.