We agree with U.S. military leaders - and, we hope, those in the political arena - that the al-Qaida terrorist network and its Taliban handmaidens need to be destroyed. Most Americans feel the same way, we believe.
But that should not blind us to the necessity of using realistic strategy and tactics to conduct the war on terrorism - for it is that, despite what some in President Barack Obama's administration would have us think.
Testimony in Congress a few days ago, by top military leaders, again raises the question of whether the war in Afghanistan is being waged realistically.
U.S. and other NATO forces have suffered some setbacks in their campaign to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban, once and for all. Yet Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, told lawmakers "we are making headway." Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agreed.
We have enormous respect for Petraeus, architect of the "surge" strategy that proved successful in Iraq. Still, his admonition to lawmakers to question news media reports about Afghanistan should raise eyebrows. Coverage of the war has been "too negative," he said.
We truly hope so. We hope success is right around the corner. But Americans who remember a steady stream of optimistic news flowing from the military during the Vietnam War are right to wonder. Again: The key to winning in Afghanistan is realism - not unquestioning optimism.