We're not losing. We have played successful defense; there has not been another successful attack like the one that brought down the Towers. No one has set off a small nuclear bomb in Kansas. But we don't seem to be winning either. Life for the terrorists may be harder, supplies more limited. But we haven't found Osama bin Laden. While Al Qaeda has taken some hits in places like Iraq, I'm sure it still survives.
The papers report today that Mr. Bush has a new tactic--going after terrorists on the ground in other peoples' countries without giving those countries--Pakistan mainly--any advance notice. Just walk in and shoot 'em up. That will surely make us many new friends and allies.
In fact winning, as opposed to not losing, will almost certainly be a challenge for the next president--a challenge not simply in military terms. He will need to convince Muslims and Muslim governments that the United States does not regard Islam or the countries where it rules, as necessarily hostile. There is nothing in the religion, as far as I know, that requires Muslims to wage holy war. They sometimes do and so, of course, do Christians, but it's not required.
What the next president will understand, I hope, is that we live in a diverse world, that not all countries will admire the American way, but that we don't have to fight the ones who don't like us, and they don't have to fight us. Talking to their leaders, which Obama has said he'd do, is something he's been attacked for but it's hard to see why. Beats bombing as an approach, you'd think.
So let's hope that we accept diversity and that we can live with different cultures in peace and they with us. It's not the Bush way, but it might be Obama's or McCain's.
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