One of the more troubling news stories of recent days was the poll indicating that a substantial majority of Americans don’t think we’re winning the war, with nearly half considering the war a “stalemate.” In fact, it is hard to see how we could be doing much better. Afghanistan has been liberated with stunning speed and astonishingly little loss of American life; the enemy has been deprived of its only geographic base; al Qaeda is under daily attack around the world, and many of its key operatives have been killed or captured. This article by James Robbins sums up the situation very well. In light of the facts, it is hard to know what to make of the poll data. Maybe it’s a fluke, or maybe lots of people won’t be satisfied until bin Laden is known to be dead. (Based on the publicly available evidence, it would appear that he died late last year, but comments from Administration officials suggest that they may have information confirming that he is still alive, somewhere in Pakistan.) What’s troubling is this: Our enemies have always based their strategy largely on what they see as a spoiled American public’s impatience with long and seemingly inconclusive conflicts, which the war against Islamofascism likely will be. If many Americans really don’t consider the present situation to constitute successful prosecution of the war, what will they think when the next terrorist attack occurs in the US? There is a real danger that impatience and unrealistic expectations could hobble our effort to bring the war to a successful conclusion.
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