President Bush stated in an interview in which he was asked if the United States could win the war on terror and he answered
"I don't think you can win it." He added, in the interview, "I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world."
Bush has been criticized for this statement and he quickly backed off of it saying:
"We may never sit down at a peace table, but make no mistake about it, we are winning and we will win," Bush told 6,500 veterans at an American Legion convention. "We will win by staying on the offensive, we will win by spreading liberty," Bush told the veterans.
The thing is this is actually one of the truer and better things that he has said and quite frankly states one of the truths of our age. The second statement is meaningless BS which he said to combat a political problem. His political problem though was one of his own making.
By defining this as a war against terror he has set up a war that can't be won. A war against Al Qaida can be won, Al Qaida can be disrupted and broken up. But terrorism is a technique, one that can be used by small otherwise powerless groups to make a disproportionate impact. There will always be such groups, both inside (see McVey and Nichols) and outside the United States. As long as the United States is THE major player on the world stage it will be the target of some groups ire and terrorism will likely be the weapon of choice of at least some of those.
So Bush is right, we cannot defeat terrorism, the best we can do is reduce it and make it less acceptable as a tool in parts of the world. But this is a complex and unsatisfying idea that does not fit well into a sound bite.