Skip to comments.The Persistence Of Al-Qaeda
Posted on 05/11/2012 11:40:44 PM PDT by bruinbirdman
Have we well and truly entered the post-al-Qaeda era? A year after Osama Bin Ladens death at the hands of U.S. commandos, some experts and commentators are taking to the idea that the threat which preoccupied U.S. foreign policy for the past decade is now all but ancient history.
This seems to be what the Obama administration believes as well. In their public pronouncements, high-ranking administration officials continue to maintain that the Bin Laden network poses a problem. But a series of tactical successes against the organization over the past year has led the White House to conclude that, as one high-ranking State Department official recently remarked to the National Journal, the war on terror is over.
This belief, in turn, increasingly has driven administration policy. Counterterrorism operations in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan continue apace. But in foreign policy terms, the past year has seen a very public pivot away from the Middle Eastand away from the war on terror. In recent months, the United States has disengaged from Iraq; announced its early withdrawal from Afghanistan; and, most recently, formally unveiled a sweeping rebalancing of U.S. diplomacy and military policy toward Asia.
All of that would be justified if al-Qaeda and its affiliates were truly down for the count. Yet there are clear signs that its still far too early to close the book on the Bin Laden network.
For one thing, the organizationthough diminishedremains a serious security threat. Just this week, CNN reported that documents recently uncovered from an al-Qaeda operative in Berlin have provided new clues about the organizations future plansincluding the targeting of cruise liners and preparations for attacks throughout Europe. Equally significant, the documents confirm that the organization, beleaguered because of Western counterterrorism efforts, is working feverishly to regroup and adapt.
For another, al-Qaeda could soon enjoy greater room for geopolitical maneuver, thanks to the Arab Spring. The widespread instability that has roiled the greater Middle East over the past year-and-a-half has given the organization and its affiliates new opportunities to regroup and expand. Some parts of the region, like conflict-riven Yemen and North Africas lawless Sahel region, remain fertile operating environments for the Bin Laden networks regional franchises. Others, like the Sinai region separating Israel and Egypt, have emerged as potential new outposts for terrorist activity as governance has receded.
True, after years of scorched earth sectarian warfare, the organization remains deeply unpopular. According to the most recent Pew Research Center poll, significant majorities throughout the Muslim world continue to view al-Qaeda in a negative light. But the rise of Islamist politics in places like Egypt and Libya has given al-Qaedas leaders at least some reason to hope that they can still reverse their declining relevance and once again capture the imagination of regional publics.
Its a truism of warfare that, when it comes to formulating strategy, the enemy also gets a vote. Al-Qaedas war on the West undoubtedly has seen better days. But, a year after Bin Ladens demise, it remains a dogged and dangerous adversary, and the threat that it poses is far from a thing of the past. For us to behave as if it was would be a costly mistake.
The “post-al-Qa’eda” era never came any more than a post-communist era came.
The mosques are still collecting, passing money and all are regularly donating... “Zakat” as Obama says...
Jihad at the grass roots is very much alive.
What we are witnessing is probably a temporary concession for Obama giving them Libya.
It will be ancient history until we get hammered again good.
As ours is and always will be, a crisis driven society.
On another thread I posted that the US and Allies should formulate and publicize a strategy similar to our Cold War position vis-a-vis the Soviet Union, eg. Mutual Assured Destruction.
The basis of this strategy was to leave the Soviets in no doubt that any attack on the U.S. and/or its allies would trigger an immediate and overwhelming response that would destroy the Soviet Union.
Apparently this kept any rash policies by generals or apparatchiks under the control of cooler heads. If it is true that polls show that significant majority of Muslims view Al Queda (and by extension other radical terrorists) negatively, then a similar strategy to MAD might serve to motivate this silent majority to put the stops on terrorists.
But since the terrorists have no geographical location or publicaly recognized state support, where would we find the logical place for our retaliation? I submit that the cities of Median, Mecca and Qom would be first on the strike list.
Since Islam is a religion inextricably bound up in religio-statism, the very thought of losing these cities due to an uncontrolled terrorist action would horrify the majority of Muslims—and their governments. Although fanatics might not care about the consequences of their actions, the majority of Muslims might well be tempted to move against them in advance of any disaster.
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