VA Day? Hold the Parade
Victory in Afghanistan? In a strict territorial sense, yes. Turf - including caves - finally has been conquered.
But the enemy has not been vanquished. And it won't be until the US can make sure Al Qaeda has no place to call home. Nor until Taliban leaders can no longer regroup and wage another war.
Nor until fractious tribalism is curtailed by Afghan democracy, and Pakistan and other Islamic nations stop being a farm system for the export of terrorists.
Yes, Don Rumsfeld appeared to run a victory lap on the Afghan battlefield on Sunday. And yes, Old Glory now flies on a US Embassy in Kabul. And yes, the rudiments of a new Afghan government take power on Dec. 22.
And yes, Osama bin Laden's dream of Muslims rising up against the West has not come to pass. And his terrorist "sleeper cells" have yet to attack again after Sept. 11.
But a string of partial victories is not a final victory in this new kind of war. It may just be that a US president after George W. Bush will be the one to finally declare victory in a war that is redefining the meaning of peace.
For Americans, peace is no longer something that happens after a war "over there." Now, peace means security in daily life, and most of all peace of mind. Victory over fear will be the final victory over terrorism.
And Americans are learning, as others did on Sept. 11 as they watched the World Trade towers collapse, that terrorism against one country is terrorism against all. The idea of striking at civilians has become a popular tactic of conflict. It must be ended universally, much like the idea of slavery was largely ended in the 19th century in a wave of victories. There was no parade for the end of slavery.
To just capture bin Laden misses the point. It's not the man, but the ideas he practices that must be captured, and buried in the deepest cave.