Get used to that phrase. If any one theme emerged from yesterday's speech Adm. Mike Mullen, the new chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, it was one of protracted engagements around the globe, what Mullen called "a generational conflict," one that would endure throughout the careers of the youngest of today's career military personnel. In an address sponsored by the Center for a New American Security, Mullen used the term "the Long War" much as military and foreign-policy types of an earlier time used the phrase "the Cold War." The Long War has a poetic ring to it, something sad and vaguely musical -- more elegant that Rummy's "long slog" and more poignant than the Global War on Terror, known to military folk as GWOT.

The one hint of optimism I gleaned from Mullen's remarks was his contention that the jihadists will be defeated only when their ideas no longer serve adequately as motivators to their recruits -- in other words, until conditions on the ground make a violent ideology based on resentment and fear irrelevant. Why would I find optimism in that? Because it means that Mullen gets that terrorists are motivated far less by opposition to "our way of life" than they are by U.S. influence on the conditions in which they live.

--Adele M. Stan

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