Andy, your gloom about the distance we’ve traveled from the beginning of the war on terror is just too despairing. If you accept another Podhoretz’s contention that we are engaged in “World War IV,” you have to accept the notion that the Cold War was World War III. And World War III was fought over the course of 43 years, with a lot of backing and filling and hemming and hawing and an inability to follow a straight line in facing down the Soviet Union. This is a long, hard struggle and it can’t be entirely a military struggle and it won’t be entirely a military struggle. Remember that we use our military power in part so we don’t have to keep using it — so that it’s clear we know how to inflict damage and win wars and change the status quo, and thereby convince others not to do things that might cause us to turn our violent attention toward them.
As for Peter’s contention that people are “sick of this war,” that may be true but it doesn’t necessarily follow that such feelings act to make further action against Iran and Syria impossible. If that’s the best way to win and get out, then both tactically and politically it would be a canny thing to do. But it’s just simply the case that we don’t know yet how sustained and constant this jihadist terrorist opposition is going to be. Suppose Condi Rice and others aren’t just being overly optimistic about how they’re on the downward path to destruction. If that’s true, we can get what we need without having to engage Syria and Iran in a risky way, and that’s preferable to the alternative given the extent of our commitment in Iraq.