If George W. Bush had been elected President in 1860, I would have been born in a country not named the United States of America, and history wouldn't talk about the burning of Atlanta, but that the only reason Philadelphia wasn't burned to the ground is because Robert E. Lee was a stand up guy.
First hit: A few reasons Iraq is a mess. (HT: Oyster)
We've been at war in Iraq since 1991, and we've already won the whole thing 12-14 times over the course of 3 different Presidencies. The 'Surge' will work, militarily, and will be yet another tactical victory in the Middle East. Unfortunately, just like every other tactical victory our men and women in uniform have acheived so far, the lack of a real overall strategy by the Commander in Cheif means that we'll probably still be in the same situation come November. I hope that doesn't happen, I hope the surge works, the Iraqis get tired of fighting each other, and the Maliki government gets down to business and everything gets fixed. But I've hoped like that since 1991, and you could say it is difficult to take such things on faith anymore.
But the spin machine will run their Blame the LiberalsTM script because somehow the emotional instability of several service industry individuals in San Francisco has more to do with military strategy success than the leadership ability of the guy behind the desk at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Or so the people masquerading as conservatives would have you believe.
Then there is The War on Terror (HT: Drifting through the Grift)
And we've been at war with terrorist organizations since 1865. The Klan has been defeated several times in several different incarnations, and we'd better be ready (again) to fight their particular version of anarchy/homegrown terrorism in earnest sometime in the next five years. We found and pretty much defeated the mafia's more blatant shenanigans, but we still have an entire division over at the DOJ dedicated to prosecution of raketeering terrorism. We helped pressure the IRA and Britain to calm things down a bit, but that may not last very long. We moved a lot of the cartel related terrorism to Columbia and Mexico, and have been quietly fighting there for almost a decade, but every once in a while it sneaks north across the Rio Grande and it is easy to blame illegal immigrants, it is just the nature of a true war against terrorists.
Point is, we are still fighting all of these things, and never delcared 'war' against them (except for Drugs, but we saw how well that has worked out for us), because we knew they were not nations to be defeated, but individuals to be caught and tried and punished as necessary. We also knew that such behavior is almost universal, that as long as there were people there have been crimes and terrorism, and that we would have law enforcement officers chasing people who engage in such behavior ad infinitum ad nauseum.
We staunched many of these terrorist activities due to excellent police work, people picking up cold case files years later, and the dedicated work of our law enforcement community who operated under much different civil liberties restrictions than we have today. While there is always the romanticism of ass-kickery that can be found in American Mythmaking films like Mississippi Burning and The Untouchables, those things oversimplify for entertainment's sake the amount of mind numbing investigation and late nights that went into building cases against terrorists, back in the time where all people accused of terrorism could have lawyers.
But there will always be terrorists we need to catch, and someone will always take a beef too far and go from fist fights to dynamite in the heart of major American cities. Chasing terrorists did not start in 2001, it has been going on for a long, long time. I was born, after all, in Birmingham, Alabama, where four little girls died at the 16th Street Baptist Church in a terrorist attack that you don't see many ribbons for.