It is time to declare victory in the war against al-Qaida and start the process of bringing the United States its defense structure, its judicial system and its respect for its own values to a post-war footing.
This was the gist of a major national security speech delivered Thursday by President Obama at the National Defense University. In it, he called, again, for closure of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and explained plans to put the use of deadly drone strikes against terrorist targets under a more structured and reviewed process. He once more challenged Congress to work with him to develop a new statutory basis for national security to replace the law passed in the understandably panicked wake of the terror attacks of 2001.
As befits our democratic system, critics on the right and the left will, and should, examine the president's ideas for their soundness and keep a wary eye on his willingness to live up to the principles he set down Thursday. But it will be of no benefit if all that happens is more partisan deadlock. The debate about our future national security policy should be a chance for people of all ideological persuasions to work out the best ideas for returning the United States to a land where the law is supreme, force is a last resort and the fear of attack is not used to justify overreaching government power or any other loss of traditional American ideas of liberty.