Dave Weigel takes Rick Santorum to task for speaking of our modern day threats as a "Gathering Storm" akin to Hitler, and criticizes Republicans in general for blowing threats out of proportion. I'm closer to Santorum than Weigel on this one, but I differ with Santorum in that I think it's unhelpful to refer to terrorism as a "gathering storm." Terrorism (and Islamism in general), was a "gathering storm" in the 1990s, but now, we're already in the midst of the storm. Since 9/11, there have been major terrorist attacks in Bali, Madrid, London, and Mumbai, just to name a few. It's wrong to talk of Syria and Iran as if they were potential threats, given that they are already financing and providing weapons to insurgents in Iraq as well as militias that are fueling the sectarian violence (or civil war, if you prefer). They are also funding Hezbollah, which is not only a threat to Israel, but to a free and stable Lebanon.
Weigel complains that "Pro-war Republicans refuse to take responsibility for the conduct of the Iraq war, refuse to consider alternative arguments in the 'war on terror,' and want to be taken very, very seriously." I have no problem with fair criticism of the logic behind the Iraq War and the war's execution. However, while I don't consider support for the Iraq War an absolute litmus test for whether someone is serious about fighting terrorism, I do think that many anti-war types use their opposition to the War in Iraq to disguise their underlying problems with the whole concept of a War on Terror. Too often, in anti-war circles, opposition to the Iraq War is a substitute for an actual strategy for fighting terrorism. Many anti-war types think that we should view terrorism as a manageable nuisance, but that was our long-standing policy toward terrorism as it grew exponentially starting in the 1960s. Others would argue that we should fight a lower-level war on terrorism, conscious of international law, based on covert operations and closer ties to other nations. They also argue that we should take on a more active role in negotiating peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. But that was very close to Clinton's approach during the 1990s, and you still had the U.S. Embassy Bombings and the U.S.S. Cole — even if you honestly believe that 9/11 wouldn't have happened under Clinton's watch.