The other night, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly declared, (at least) "We defeated Al Quaeda."
"Defeated?" We are a nation of 300 million people, with the most well-fitted army on Earth. Backing our soldiers is advanced weaponry, the likes of which has never been rattled in the history of mankind. We pitted that war machine against a primitive army of 20,000 fighters - goatherders in sandals and head rags. Ten years later, those "goatherders" are still fighting.
Looking at our war-ravaged economy and at our thousands of dead and maimed soldiers, we must wonder, "Who is defeated?" In many ways, Osama bin Laden, even in so-called "defeat", has won.
Since 9-11, America has lived in more fear than at any other time since we were digging bomb shelters in our back yards and teaching our children to cower under their desks at school. Today, we trust no one. We fear diaper-wearing 90-year-old ladies. Defeated? We have defeated nothing.
America faces an existential threat - not from without, but from within. It is insidious, this thing that east at us, and tears at our very fiber. We call it "Al Quaeda." What is Al Quaeda, but our fear of life?
Al Quaeda has not been defeated; it cannot be defeated. It has always existed, in one form or another, and it always will. If it helps, you can call Al Quaeda "evil." But evil, I contend, is like energy: It can neither be created, nor destroyed.
Even the strongest lion pride must remain ever vigilant. Hyenas, drought, bot flies will forever nip at their tranquility. So, what? Do lions declare absolute war at an incursion? Do they decide that every hyena must die? Of course, they do not. They secure their perimeters, they patrol their territory, they accept the tenuity of life.
Al Quaeda is a bot fly. If Bush had realized this - if he had thought like a lion; if Obama would - we would not be in this fix. We would not have wasted trillions of dollars, lost thousands of lives, and squandered volumes of goodwill. We would still be like lions. Having taken our lumps, we could be stretching full-bodied on the plain, feet up, belly exposed, enjoying life at the top of the food chain.