Derb, as you point out, we’ve had this war fighting problem since the end of WWII. We haven’t been able to fight a total war since the advent of nuclear weapons. Even so, we outlasted the Soviet Union, which was also constrained by nukes, yet less inhibited by moral scruples and democratic divisions than we were. So I’m not convinced that wars–even long wars–are unwinnable in a less-than-total-war environment.
I think a lot hinges on how clearly the public sees the connection between the war and the danger. That is certainly an inherent problem in the war on terror. But the deeper problem is the power of the post-sixties dovish ideology that now motivates the opposition here and in Europe. That ideology is what gives meaning to life for many a secular liberal. This is what really makes the war on terror difficult to prosecute, and this is not the same thing as a public that finds it difficult to get behind a new kind of war. I think the outcome of our internal ideological battle is uncertain. But it is far from unwinnable.