Here I was, set to write a long post about the new Woodward book excerpts, when Gulliver distills my intended point in a tweet:

Does not compute: if we could “absorb” another 9/11, why are we wasting $70B/yr on war that won’t prevent it anyway?

He’s referring to an Obama quote about how the U.S. proved resilient after 9/11. I want to withhold assessment until I see the actual context of the quote. But it seems to follow on a point that John Brennan made in the spring, about how it’s unrealistic to expect perfect security. If that’s what he’s talking about, it’s a salient point.

It’s also a point that ultimately cuts against the massive expansion of the Afghanistan war that Obama has instituted. One way of getting close to squaring it is to say that we’re going to go big for a limited period of time in order to mitigate what we can in Afghanistan — the ol’ “so it doesn’t go back to being a safe haven” argument. But that still doesn’t address the basic resource-interest mismatch. And it’s hard to avoid the conclusion from Woodward’s excerpts that the factor inhibiting Obama from addressing it is an inability to break out of the fear-driven politics that surround terrorism, which inhibit counterterrorism vigilance under the guise of bolstering it.

Then there’s this:

Woodward quotes Petraeus as saying, “You have to recognize also that I don’t think you win this war. I think you keep fighting. It’s a little bit like Iraq, actually. . . . Yes, there has been enormous progress in Iraq. But there are still horrific attacks in Iraq, and you have to stay vigilant. You have to stay after it. This is the kind of fight we’re in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids’ lives.”

There needs to be a lot more stress put on the idea of a ‘Long War,’ the idea that the measure of progress is merely continuing to wage a conflict.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t link my Danger Room post on the CIA’s Afghan proxies for cross-border raids into Pakistan