In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Hamdan decision yesterday, there are two more must-reads. First comes from the pen of Daniel Henninger:

“The tension between the Bush administration and its critics has much to do with the fact that the government’s surveillance programs are justified to fight a blob called ‘terrorism.’ The conceit is we’re all supposed to mumble, sotto voce, that it’s really Islamic terrorism; but for reasons of delicacy the government won’t quite say that and won’t make it official. That gives the administration’s critics at least a basis for arguing that its surveillance claims are too broad. In this way the Taliban on Guantanamo reach the status of Everyman, even in the minds of Supreme Court justices. Why not a congressional act defining the threat? So what if it failed? The purpose would now be plain and even the New York Times could no longer pretend it can’t distinguish between wiretaps on revolutionary Islamic fanatics and Patrick Henry’s descendants.”

It is also necessary to understand what we are doing abroad. Historian Victor Davis Hanson worries that many Americans don’t:

“Regrettably, there has not been successful and constant explication of why we are in Iraq. Yet, because George Bush is in his second term, and is not Clintonian in obsession with polls and being liked, he can still guarantee the military two more years to stabilize the country. Then the hope is that the Iraqis will be able to secure their democracy in the future with a small number of American advisors and civilian aides, which might allow Iraq an opportunity something akin to that offered to the postwar Balkans.

“There is [another] war: that for the larger future of the Middle East. Pessimists point to the Gulf, Egyptian, and North African autocracies. And they see there only failure in the American efforts at democratization.

“But the point is not to see Rotary Clubs and school boards sprouting up in the failed states of the Middle East. Instead, we can be happy enough with the beginning of the end of the old “stability” that nurtured terrorism. The public is nursed on news of car bombs, and the tired canard that supporting democracy always ensures perpetual Islamism. But if we remain calm and rational, then we can already see signs of real change in the unease and agitation of the Middle East, from Libya to Lebanon. All this was unleashed by the removal of Saddam Hussein and the American effort to stay on to foster something different despite base slurs, escalating oil prices, and the politicization of the war in a soon to be third wartime national election.

“Nascent democracy is the reason that Afghans and Iraqis, alone in the Middle East, get up each morning and risk their lives to hunt down Islamic