We knew this was coming. No American victory in this day and age, not even the long-overdue death of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden, is safe from political hijacking by the useful idiots of the Left. Within hours of hearing the good news, left-wing Daily Beast flunky Peter Beinart took to the keyboard to declare that the War on Terror is finally over.
Wow, what a relief! So that means Iran’s nuclear program is kaput? Er, no. Well, maybe it means the UN Security Council has stopped playing nice with Middle Eastern thug regimes. Wait, that didn’t happen, either. I know – peace between Israel and the Palestinians is finally in sight! Nope, try again. Um, then maybe anti-American sentiment among Muslim populations is waning? Uh-uh.
If none of that’s the case, then what does Beinart mean?
I don’t mean that there is no threat of further jihadist attack. In the short term, the threat may even rise. I don’t mean that we should abandon all efforts at tracking terrorist cells. Of course not. But the war on terror was a way of seeing the world, explicitly modeled on World War II and the Cold War. It suggested that the struggle against “radical Islam” or “Islamofascism” or “Islamic terrorism” should be the overarching goal of American foreign policy, the prism through which we see the world […] It made East Asia an afterthought during a critical period in China’s rise; it allowed all manner of dictators to sell their repression in Washington, just as they had during the Cold War; it facilitated America’s descent into torture; it wildly exaggerated the ideological appeal of a jihadist-Salafist movement whose vision of society most Muslims find revolting.
Bin Laden’s death is an opportunity to lay the war on terror to rest as well. Although President Obama avoids the phrase, its assumptions still drive our war in Afghanistan, a crushingly expensive adventure in nation building in a desperately poor country whose powerful neighbor wants us to fail. Those assumptions fuel anti-Muslim racism in the United States, where large swaths of the Republican Party have decided they are at risk of living under Sharia law. And they blind us to the differences among Islamist movements, allowing Glenn Beck and company to depict Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood as al Qaeda’s farm team.
I’m struggling to decide what the most contemptible part of this screed is. Is it the insane implication that Obama taking one problem less seriously will lead to him taking the others more seriously, despite his manifest unseriousness towards both? The way he relies on his own past smears of conservatives as Islamophobes to prop up his latest thesis? Where he casually says, oh by the way, the Cold War was no big deal either?
I don’t know what the sleaziest element is, but it’s easy to see which one is the most dangerous:
The war on terror is over; Al Qaeda lost.
This has perhaps been no greater point of contention between hawks and doves since the September 11 attacks: is the War on Terror simply an effort to destroy the terrorist organization under whose banner 9/11 was carried out, or is it a larger struggle against the broader ideological movement of which al Qaeda was but one part?
I hate to break it to you, but despite the loss of their leader, al Qaeda has by no means been neutered, and either way, they’re far from the only Islamofascist game in town. Extremists have won a string of governments throughout the Middle East, and in particular, NRB’s Moshe Phillips notes that Hamas is still kicking. Indeed, learning where bin Laden was hiding—right under the noses of our Pakistani “allies”—should be enough to illustrate why it’s a bit early to herald a new era of U.S.-Mideast relations.
Then again, it’s not as if any of the above would change Peter Beinart’s mind—recall that according to him, the War on Terror has never been a war. Whether Osama bin Laden’s relaxing in a compound or sleeping with the fishes means nothing to him; he’d be saying it’s time to pack up regardless. In that sense, his entire column is a farce—bin Laden’s death is just the latest pretext of seriousness he’s using to whine, “are we there yet?”