Consider a few quotes from the President:

We are also there because there are great stakes in the balance. Let no one think for a moment that retreat would bring an end to conflict. The battle would be renewed in one country and then another. The central lesson of our time is that the appetite of aggression is never satisfied.
There is no single battleline which you can plot each day on a chart. The enemy is not easy to perceive, or to isolate, or to destroy. There are mistakes and there are setbacks. But we are moving, and our direction is forward. I think I reveal no secret when I tell you that we are dealing with a stubborn adversary who is committed to the use of force and terror to settle political questions.
This is a war of unparalleled brutality. Simple farmers are the targets of assassination and kidnapping. Women and children are strangled in the night because their men are loyal to their government. And helpless villages are ravaged by sneak attacks. Large-scale raids are conducted on towns, and terror strikes in the heart of cities.

But it’s not President Bush– it’s President Johnson, speaking of the Vietnam War in the late 1960’s. Interesting how he paints a picture of a terrorist enemy who is brutal, barbaric, and requires unprecedented measures to defeat. One could easily make that argument for every enemy the United States has ever faced.

Yet today we hear about how The Terrorists are so much worse than all of the enemies we’ve ever faced, how the government needs extraordinary powers to stop them, how we as citizens must steel ourselves for a war that may never end, how we must always be standing ready to sacrifice our rights and our freedoms in the name of the cause. Why is today’s war any worse than those of the past? How are the al Qaeda fundamentally worse than the Viet Cong?

Quoting Glenn Greenwald:

The only difference is that, for the first time, we have a President who claims that America is too weak and ineffective to defeat those enemies while adhering to our defining values and a superior set of civilized norms. George Bush is the first President, certainly since World War II, if not ever, to claim that we have to become the enemy and to descend to their barbarism in order to protect ourselves. What is new and unprecedented is not the enemy we face, but the fundamental and depraved changes to our national character which the President insists we much accept in order to win.