The sheer audacity and evil of destroying the shrine of the 12th imam is part of an inter-Muslim civil war that had begun long before the forces of al-Qaida decided to exploit that war and also to export it to non-Muslim soil. Yes, we did indeed underestimate the ferocity and ruthlessness of the jihadists in Iraq. Where, one might inquire, have we not underestimated those forces and their virulence? (We are currently underestimating them in Nigeria, for example, which is plainly next on the Bin Laden hit list and about which I have been boring on ever since Bin Laden was good enough to warn us in the fall of 2004.)
Hitchens and Steyn are doing the work of a thousand editors. Neither fits comfortably into any category but both are primarily concerned with the war, which is why they are for the moment, the most influential and serious writers at work today.