There's a little more to it, of course, and Beinart remains critical of liberals who have gotten so disgusted with George Bush's approach to terrorism that they've decided the whole war on terror is just a sham. Still, it's an interesting transformation, and many of the differences that remain within liberal circles strike me as more rhetorical than substantive.
"The war on terror" was always a sham, in the sense that it was a hideously inappropriate metaphor which provided cover for a bunch of hideously inappropriate policies. As for these magical straw liberals who think terrorism isn't an issue, I imagine they're hiding out in Beinart's barn along with the rest of his straw monsters. As for the real issue, which is "George Bush's approach to terrorism," well, yes, that's a sham as I imagine even Beinart would acknowledge.
Well, I think the "war on terror(ism)" is a sham. At least it's a sham in the sense of it being a military conflict against foreign enemies. Obstensibly being waged against the Islamic world, the war on terrorism is in actuality a conflict being waged by Americans in the media, Congress, and conservative think tanks against dissent and non-conformity by other Americans. It's a war being waged against American freedom and liberty in an effort to fear-monger the creation of a Permanent Republican Majority.
The U.S. House of People's Deputies conducted a "hearing" on Friday in which some media figures and Constitutional specialists testified before the Select Committee on Intelligence about the "problem" of "national security" leaks to the media. Jonathan Turley a law prof from Georgetown (or George Washington) vigorously defended the need for whistleblowers to be protected and for the country's right to know about abuses being conducted in its name by its elected officials through the government's various agencies. Republicans on the Committee, meanwhile, continue to believe that the box-cutting orchestrated plane hijackings by 19 Egyptians, Saudis and Yemenians on Sept. 11 constitutes an open warrant for the Republican administration and its Congressional appeasers to roll back the Bill of Rights to secure their own power. Do Republicans really believe that Islamic terrorists represent a dire threat to the U.S. and are they really afraid the country will be attacked again, in some significant manner? Do you? I don't. The proper security of our major transportation systems, infrastructure, and energy establishments is needed, to be sure. But a war on the country's citizens and guaranteed freedoms are not. Republicans have made the 9-11 "19" into mystical, omniscient, omnipresent force that can only be combatted by surrending our God-given and Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. This is nonsense. The time has come for leading Democrats to tell the American people that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself". It's time for leading Democrats to declare that Al Qaeda is not the Confederate Army poised to torch Washington, D.C. after Bull Run, Nazi Germany, the Cold War Soviet Union, or even modern North Korea.
Somebody else agrees