Combat or no combat, the war definitely belongs now to Barack Obama -- as does, of course, the war in Afghanistan. As does the job of finding a way to run the inhabitants of Guantanamo Bay through the judicial mill. As does the duty of conducting surveillance of plotters and planners here and abroad. So, too, the task merely of reminding the American people -- and the people of the world -- from time to time of the need to remain vigilant.
It's the sort of task that gets in the way of "pluralism" -- i.e., suggesting that out there in the big world live various non-Anglo-Saxon, non-Christian people (though we don't want to hurt their feelings by talking about them too much) who dislike democracy, dislike the culture that democracy breeds, think Christianity and Judaism false religions, don't care a rap for free speech or trial by jury, wouldn't mind if someone knocked over our whole country, and, at the end of the day, have to be resisted -- all of them -- sometimes to the death.
One knows already how history will deal with this war and with its progenitor, given the liberal politics of most professional historians and their generic hostility to George W. Bush. That's hardly the present problem. How will the war critic who now is president deal with a war that has become his own because of where he is and who he is? That is what the nation must find out now -- and certainly will.