Victor Davis Hanson

The president announced that he would support the Libyan rebels. He pointed to United Nations and Arab League authorizations to establish a no-fly zone and stop the killing of Gadhafi's opponents. Helping the rebels win means using force to remove Gadhafi. Yet regime change is a mission that we insist is not our goal and would not be authorized by the international bodies to which we subordinate ourselves.

In truth, the Obama administration intervened without knowing who or what the Libyan rebels were, apparently on the theory that they were close to winning and seemed a far better option than Gadhafi. The first premise proved wrong; the second could be true but is still subject to debate. So we took a breather and just quit military operations, hoping the Libyan mess would just go away in the same way that bad dictators voluntary left Egypt and Tunisia.

The government is no longer supposed to use hurtful vocabulary like "war on terror," "Islamic terrorism" or "jihadist." But some unnamed groups are still apparently trying to kill us. Otherwise, why would the White House keep the demonized Guantanamo Bay facility open? And for what purpose, and against whom, are we still employing the once-hated military tribunals, renditions and preventative detention?

Fantasy apparently seems preferable to reality. In our new dream world, borrowed money need not be paid back. Cars run on nasty gas that is produced in faraway places. Mean dictators should flee when told to leave. And radical Muslims are not really trying to kill us.

Like children, we turn on any spoilsport parent who nags us to stop borrowing, cut entitlements and government spending, start drilling and building power plants, get real about dictators in the Middle East, and keep vigilant against radical Islamic terrorists.

So we will keep dreaming until creditors, oil exporters, enemies or terrorists wake us up.

Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.