The war against fascism ended over sixty years ago. If we want to bemoan pre-9/11 thinking then it seems appropriate to point out that we have leaders who can’t get themselves past the Eisenhower era.
Lest anybody think that I am joking, I mean that literally. Since the end of WWII America has experienced a series of wars that have not infrequently demonstrated the undesirability of war as an instrument of foreign policy. These people genuinely don’t get that. Our current leaders, from Cheney and Rumsfeld down through the neoconservatives come from that small band who still think we could have won Vietnam. To illustrate what I mean, recall that back in early 2001 the new administration thoroughly neglected non-state threats in order to focus on armed states like Iraq. That made no sense when al Qaeda had repeatedly attacked us and Iraq had not. At least it made no sense to people like Richard Clarke with contemporary experience in national security.
Where was the current Bush administration during the rise of international terror? In government exile and obsessing about the past, Vietnam and Iraq. In the 2000 election only one party’s platform mentioned al Qaeda at all (the other, unsurprisingly, mentioned Iraq. Guess which). It takes a pre-1946 mindset to think that America’s enemies can be wrapped into a discernible border and bombed into submission, yet that exact theory has driven administration policy both before 9/11 and afterwards.
I think this is pretty accurate and a point the Democrats should be making. There is a threat from Islamic terrorism but the pre-1946 mindset of the neocons and the administration is only making it worse.