Ben Stein: Declaring end to War on Terror is surrender

(CBS News) President Obama's recent statement of his strategy for waging the war on terror has left our contributor Ben Stein with decidedly mixed feelings:

As I watched President Obama give his speech about the war on terror recently, I approved. His presentation was powerful, his persona impressive.

"Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue, but this war, like all wars, must end."

But I am puzzled by the overall theme of his speech, which I take to be that it is time to stop, or greatly wind down, the War on Terror.

Of course, some of this was obvious. The war in Iraq -- a colossal mistake to start with -- is over for the U.S. The war in Afghanistan -- poorly conducted from Day One -- is winding down rapidly.

In neither case can we say we are ending with a clear-cut (or even a rough-cut) victory.

But how can we declare peace in the War on Terror, when the terrorists are still making war on us?

There is no sign at all of any interest by the terrorists in stopping their attacks on us or our allies. There is no hint that al Qaeda is even remotely finished as an enemy.

Very much to the contrary. Although al Qaeda wasn't necessarily involved, we saw vicious terrorism at the Boston Marathon, and a staggeringly cruel act of terror in London virtually hours before Mr. Obama spoke.

Terrorists are bloodcurdlingly powerful in Africa, both in the Sahara region and in Sub-Saharan Africa.

How can we possibly declare peace in a war in which the other side is waging war aggressively against freedom and dignity all over the world?

The idea that we can unilaterally declare peace against an enemy on the attack is delusional, at best.

Long ago, before the U.S. had entered WWII, an American asked Winston Churchill why the British were fighting so desperately against the Nazis. "If we stop, you'll find out," said Churchill.

I hope Mr. Obama will ponder these words.

Peace, while the other side is still attacking, is not peace. It is surrender.