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This week’s Newsweek cover: How ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ predicts the future. The story, by Daniel Klaidman, explores the question: Could the Obama administration someday announce that the “war on terror” is over? Klaidman reports on the growing signs that the administration may be debating when to consider the war “finished.”
It’s a question that President Obama has quietly discussed with his closest advisers. He has raised the issue publicly only in the vaguest terms: when he said, to rousing cheers on election night, that “a decade of war is ending,” it sounded more like a reference to Afghanistan and Iraq than a statement about the war on terror as a whole. Yet behind the scenes, Obama has led a persistent internal conversation about whether America should remain engaged in a permanent, ever-expanding state of war, one that has pushed the limits of the law, stretched dwindling budgets, and at times strained relations with our allies. “This has always been a concern of the President’s,” says a former military adviser to Obama. “He’s uncomfortable with the idea of war without end.” It is still considered politically treacherous for anyone, especially Democrats, to question whether war is the right framework for fighting terrorism. But just as the intelligence and military communities were criticized twelve years ago for having had too much of a “pre-9/11 mentality,” some in the administration have now begun to gingerly ask whether we today have too much of a “post-9/11” mentality. Or, as one adviser to Obama recently put it to me, “Is it time to start winding down the state of emergency?”