This is the standard world-view of the American Left, and no matter how many times I hear it or read it, it still staggers me. It boils down to two articles of faith:
At the heart of this failure is an obsession with the "war on terrorism" that ignores larger forces shaping the world: the emergence of China, India, Russia and Europe; the spread of lethal weapons and dangerous diseases; uncertain supplies of energy, food and water; the persistence of poverty; ethnic animosities and state failures; a rapidly warming planet; the challenge to nation states from above and below.
Instead, Mr. Bush has turned a small number of radical groups that hate America into a 10-foot tall existential monster that dictates every move we make.
The intersection of al Qaeda with the world's most lethal weapons is a deadly serious problem. Al Qaeda must be destroyed. But to compare terrorism with an all-encompassing ideology like communism and fascism is evidence of profound confusion.
Terrorism is a means, not an end, and very different groups and countries are using it toward very different goals. Messrs. Bush and McCain lump together, as a single threat, extremist groups and states more at odds with each other than with us: Sunnis and Shiites, Persians and Arabs, Iraq and Iran, al Qaeda and Shiite militias. If they can't identify the enemy or describe the war we're fighting, it's difficult to see how we will win.
The results speak for themselves.
On George Bush's watch, Iran, not freedom, has been on the march: Iran is much closer to the bomb; its influence in Iraq is expanding; its terrorist proxy Hezbollah is ascendant in Lebanon and that country is on the brink of civil war.
Beyond Iran, al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan – the people who actually attacked us on 9/11 – are stronger now than at any time since 9/11. Radical recruitment is on the rise. Hamas controls Gaza and launches rockets at Israel every day. Some 140,000 American troops remain stuck in Iraq with no end in sight.
Because of the policies Mr. Bush has pursued and Mr. McCain would continue, the entire Middle East is more dangerous. The United States and our allies, including Israel, are less secure.
- The terrorists attacking our nation are not a serious, much less existential, threat; they are most appropriately dealt with by police forces, not the military.
- The world is more dangerous today than it was eight years ago, because of our aggressive war on terror.
The left's second article of faith could simply be shameless electoral pandering, but based on a number of conversations I've had with true believers, I think that many of them actually believe this. They seem to think that because they're saying over and over again that the world is now a more dangerous place, that it really is more dangerous now. Never mind those huge arrays of pesky facts to the contrary (especially the one that's most important to me: we have not had any successful terrorist attacks on U.S. territory since 9/11). That's all ignorable in the face of their relentless repetition of what they apparently want to believe: that fighting back against the evil of terrorism makes the world worse.
It's depressing to read things like Biden's bilious bullshit, and realize that something like half of my fellow countrymen would agree with it...