The War on Terror Is Here to Stay

(American Interest) 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.

2013-08-07 00:00:00

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