We seem to have a failure to communicate here. In fact the two sides are existing in different worlds and cannot understand the other.
For one side the world is at war. Or, more accurately, militant Islam (supported by moderate Muslims) has been at war with Christendom for the last 20 years. 9/11 was just the high-point of the Islamic offensive. Thus considerations of strategy, tactics, and so forth are the main topics of discussion.
For the other side the world cannot be at war since war is wrong. Thus the discussions are about why we are not at war, why this is all illegitimate aggression, and so on.
So, when one side listens to the other it hears things that make absolutely no sense! Thus, the other side must be involved in a conspiracy or idiots or whatever.
Alas, no amount of talking is going to cross this divide, I have decided. Time and time only will tell. I know where I stand, the world is at war. And while you may not be interested in it, it is interested in you.
There are young men out there who would happily kill all of us commenting here, irregardless of our opinions.
Like the comment reproduced in my previous posting, this comes from "Lancer", who appears to be a Ph. D. student in history at North Arizona University. If his thesis is as good as these comments, it will be terrific.
Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are critical in this war. But it is going to be a long war, likely into the 2020s given the demographics of the region.
We could not put pressure on Pakistan while we needed their support in Afghanistan. A favorable Afghan government will give us, in a few years, a solid base of operations to begin to put pressure on Pakistan (and Iran).
We could not lean on Saudi Arabia while US troops were present to contain Sadddam Hussein. Now that he is gone, so are the US forces (officially as of 25 August). Iraq, in a few years, will be a great base of operations to pressure Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran.
Bothered by all this talk of the future and future conflict? You are not alone, but the greatest revulsion of the future comes from those folks who created the "art" Michael posted. They fear what is to come, because they now realize (with the collapse of the Soviet Union) that it will not be the utopia they had hoped for.
This fear is understandable for we are likely in the midst of an epochal shift. Robert J. Bunker sees it as a shift from nation-states based on mechanical energy to something else. Philip Bobbitt believes the nation-state, which was to take care of its citizens, is becoming a market-state, whose job is to provide opportunities for its inhabitants. Fear of the future has a long history in human affairs. Heck, communism grew out of a dislike of the shift from animal to mechanical energy in the mid-19th century, positing a future that would be a return to a (mythical) communal past!
Those on the radical left are scared of the future and their fear leads to anger, anger at those who would dare show them the future and make them deal with it. (Explains a lot of European anti-Americanism too.)
We, if I may lump all of Michael's readers together, do share a concern with the future, but not the anger. We have, I think, adopted a position, to paraphrase George Orwell, that the future has to be faced, not feared. This does not mean that we should abandon all thought and support one position. That is what the radical left has done and it does not work. We must be more responsible than that.
When I first started following politics in the 1970s, the reactionaries were all on the right. It's been disconcerting to see the left getting more and more reactionary over the last decade or so. The fear of change is almost palpable. That's very close to fear of the future, if not identical. Hmmm.