Obama's speech at National Defense University last week (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA) Obama’s speech at National Defense University last week (Jim Lo Scalzo/European Pressphoto Agency)

“It is time to declare victory and get on with our lives,” writes Eugene Robinson in his op-ed column today about the Global War on Terror. President Obama, he writes, isn’t able to say that, but it’s pretty much what he meant in a speech last week; it’s time to stop fighting Osama bin Laden and preventing 9/11, since that guy and that well-funded, well-orchestrated, international style of attacks from millionaires are no longer what we’re chiefly fighting.


So the new metaphor is not a war, but sort of a police force. Not the kind of thing that invades countries, but the kind of thing a community can maintain, economically and spiritually, to fight a variety of smaller threats at once.

Commenters who like this idea like it for humanist and practical reasons:


Place a cell phone with internet access in the hands of a repressed young Mideast dissenter who is without hope of any future and the seeds of terrorism have been planted.
The real war that has resulted is a clash of humanities Not cultures or religion. Maybe terror is better fought with aid, support and assistance with internal economic growth. It had worked very well in most other global regions.

And commenters who don’t like this idea find it naive and dangerous:


“Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda, the organization that flew airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, is decimated and on the run.”

This is the same delusional campaign narrative that the Administration parroted before, during and after the Benghazi attack. The reality is that Ayman al-Zawahiri is still alive and sheltered in Pakistan by the Pakistan Army just like bin Laden was. We are the ones in retreat from Afghanistan, not al Qaeda.

While al Qaeda and its affiliates have diversified their tactics, there is no supporting evidence that they have abandoned mass casualty attacks. In fact, just last week Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, and Raed Jaser, 35, both appeared via video link in Canada to face charges in what police said was a plot with “direction and guidance” from Al-Qaeda to attack a Via Rail train in the Toronto area.

ethan thinks a “war” that we can maintain indefinitely is much worse for us than a big one that ends:

The beautiful thing about “war” is that it is expensive, ugly, nasty and terribly unpopular (politically in the US), and that’s the way [it] should be. It should not be cheapened by the use of drones to make it more convenient, or less messy, or less expensive. The use of drones needs to be approved by Congress, for the use of drones is equal to declaring war. It may not be a war against a sovereign nation, but it is a war for the intent is to destroy an enemy, whether that be a nation or an individual.

jqtaxpayer argues that if Obama were serious about ending the “war,” he’d give back some war powers:

Well, all right, but let’s rollback the Orwellian measures put into place that neglect basic civil liberties in the name of a war that apparently doesn’t exist. Warrantless wiretaps, domestic drones, child molesting airport security? Let them all go. THEN the war is over, Eugene. After all, we didn’t keep our Japanese citizen internment camps after WW2 did we?

capntrips thinks many small attacks matter as much as single big ones:

Eugene, there’s been more terrorism on America soil in the last couple months than in the years following 9/11. The trend is MORE terrorism on US soil, not less.

And independentcandor, in the post that scares PostScript the most of all the comments today, says that the fact that we can’t “win” a war on terror also means we can never stop the war on terror.

The war on terror, like any war, cannot “end” until one side is vanquished or a legitimate treaty is signed. Given the dispersed and vague nature of the “terrorist armies” and lack of any legitimate leadership, no treaty is possible.

So we can’t kill everyone who might become or help a terrorist. Nor can we just live with the idea that people are out there helping or becoming terrorists. There’s a middle ground, PostScript assumes, but she can’t come up with a snappy name for it.