The War on Terror Is Here to Stay - Walter Russell Mead
- With the latest intercepted chatter indicating that a major attack is being planned, and with the corresponding shuttering of U.S. embassies across the world, it's clear that al-Qaeda has adjusted to American tactics and taken advantage of the widespread chaos across the Middle East.
- The "Arab democracy" approach to the problem of terrorism that dominated recent U.S. administrations was a classic example of American "quick fix" thinking. Get democracy going, or so the thinking went, and we marginalize al-Qaeda, make people happy, and the war on terror comes to an end.
- However, the political, religious, cultural, and social issues that keep the Middle East under stress and set the conditions for al-Qaeda-type movements to arise are deeply rooted. Worse, we really don't have the answers to them.
- From Pakistan to Morocco there are countries and societies wrestling with demons we can't control and casting desperately about for answers we can't supply. That's a reality that is hard for Americans to accept, but accept it we must.
- Presidents Bush and Obama both thought they saw the evolution of a peaceful, democratic Middle East hovering just on the horizon. Instead, we face a long slog and changing risk against people who really, really hate us, and really, really believe that killing as many of us as possible is the shortest road to a better life for them and their people.
The writer is Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College and a former Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations.