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The global war on terror was the gift that kept on giving for Republican foreign-policy experts for the better part of a decade. The open-ended and amorphous struggle against al Qaeda and its offshoots not only offered rhetorical cover for traditional party priorities, such as rapidly expanding the military and striking against rogues such as Saddam Hussein, it was the perfect vehicle to denigrate Democrats as too soft to get the job done. No wonder President George W. Bush and political strategist Karl Rove thought that terrorism would be the issue that would help cement the permanent Republican majority of which they long had dreamed.

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This article was originally published in Foreign Policy.

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