Don't fault President Obama for reconsidering his strategy in Afghanistan. Fault him for reconsidering his strategy only in Afghanistan. Nearing the end of his first year in office, his administration has not yet developed a coherent and comprehensive plan to defend Americans from the movements, groups and regimes that declare themselves our enemies, explicitly state their intentions - e.g. "A world without America" - and, unless we take steps to prevent it, will soon have nuclear capabilities to help them accomplish their mission.
The Bush administration fought what it called a "Global War on Terrorism." The phrase was unsatisfactory because it suggested our fight was against a weapon rather than with an enemy utilizing that weapon. But at least it acknowledged the obvious: an asymmetric war is being waged against the U.S. and other free nations.
The Obama administration has rejected the Global War on Terrorism. Its spokesmen say there is no world conflict -- only "overseas contingency operations." The problem with this is not merely semantic. It's conceptual. It's disconnecting the dots.
In his new book, "Accomplice to Evil: Iran and the War Against the West," Michael Ledeen, the Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (the policy institute I head) asks why, in the 1930s, so many otherwise smart people were so blind to the gravity of the threat posed by the Nazi movement that arose in Germany, the militarist movement that arose in Japan and the Fascist movement that arose in Italy.
Whatever the explanation, we might have learned from that experience. Yet today, so many otherwise smart people are equally blind to the gravity of the threat posed by the Khomeinist movement that arose in Iran in 1979, and the al-Qaeda movement that arose in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 1988.
These movements are rivals -- Khomeinism appeals primarily to Shia Muslims, while al-Qaeda reaches out to the Sunni -- but they can and do cooperate and conspire against those they view as common enemies. One or both have links to other groups - the Taliban, Hezbolah, Hamas -- that are waging war against "infidels." The Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia stoke the fires of Islamic rage in mosques, madrassas and media, and use their enormous oil revenues to fund Islamist terrorists, insurgents and militants around the world.