On the one hand: U.S. foreign policy elites know that the national swoon over the killing of Osama bin Laden makes for a great chance to cut our losses in wars across the globe. So we get people like Leslie Gelb, President Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, declaiming in the Wall Street Journal:
That's not exactly what I (or probably the Afghans) would call peace, but it's moving in the right direction.
In the National Journal, Tim Fernholz and Jim Tankersley have spelled out in detail what the ill-conceived "war on terror" has cost, in money, deaths, and other paths not taken.
Read it all; it's worth taking in. The smarter defenders of American exceptionalism -- of empire -- are ready for a changed strategy.
On the other hand: the dumber defenders of empire in the Republican House of Representatives are making an effort to ensure the "war on terror" is permanent. They are afraid that the historical specificity of language in the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, adopted in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, might suggest a limit on Presidential authority to send troops chasing around the world. So, according to a summary in Politico,
The article indicates the Obama administration has not taken a position on this legislation. We probably can't count on Democrats to reject this endless extension of an ill-defined "war" unless the administration uses its influence against it.
War and a society endlessly anxious about threats, real and imagined, remains popular among our rulers; among most of us, instinctively, not so much so.
Photo via US Army Flickr feed.