Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Foreign Policy, Intelligence, Military, National Security, Politics, Progressivism, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: Al Qaeda-Not Dead Nor Defeated, Conditions Set for Attack on US, Frederick Kagan Testimony
“President Barack Obama has described al Qaeda as having been “decimated”, “on the path to defeat” or some other variation at least 32 times since the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, according to White House transcripts.” That was an article at CNS news on November 1, 2012. He’s probably upped that 32 times considerably since then. Here’s one of the more typical statements:
Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq — and we did. I said we’d wind down the war in Afghanistan — and we are. And while a new tower rises above the New York skyline, al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, and Osama bin Laden is dead.
Fredrick W. Kagan is one of those people that can be correctly called an “expert.” He has years of study and experience behind this testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade on “Missing the Target—Why the U.S.Has Not Defeated al Qaeda.”
All conditions are set for a series of significant terrorist attacks against the US and its allies over the next few years. But that’s not the worst news. Conditions are also set for state collapse in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and possibly Jordan. Saudi Arabia, facing a complex succession soon, is likely to acquire nuclear weapons shortly, if it has not already done so. Turkey and Egypt confront major crises. Almost all of Northern and Equatorial Africa is violent, unstable, and facing a growing al Qaeda threat. And Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine is likely to empower al Qaeda-aligned jihadists in Crimea and in Russia itself. That eventuality is, of course, less worrisome than the prospect of conventional and partisan war on the European continent, likely threatening NATO allies. The international order and global stability are collapsing in a way we have not seen since the 1930s. There is little prospect of this trend reversing of its own accord, and managing it will require massive efforts by the US and its allies over a generation or more.
This distressing context is essential for considering the al Qaeda threat today. On the one hand, it makes that threat look small. The long-term effects of global chaos and conflict among hundreds of millions of people across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East on US security, interests, and way of life are surely greater than any damage al Qaeda is likely to do to us in the immediate future. Yet the two threats feed each other powerfully. Disorder and conflict in the Muslim world breed support for al Qaeda, which is starting to look like the strong horse in Iraq and even in Syria. Al Qaeda groups and their allies, on the other hand, powerfully contribute to the collapse of state structures and the emergence of horrific violence and Hobbesian chaos wherever they operate. They are benefiting greatly from the regional sectarian war they intentionally triggered (the destruction of the Samarra Mosque in 2006 was only the most spectacular of a long series of efforts by al Qaeda in Iraq to goad Iraq’s Shi’a into sectarian conflict, for which some Shi’a militants, to be sure, were already preparing)—and have been continuing to fuel. Al Qaeda is like a virulent pathogen that opportunistically attacks bodies weakened by internal strife and poor governance, but that further weakens those bodies and infects others that would not otherwise have been susceptible to the disease. The problem of al Qaeda cannot be separated from the other crises of our age, nor can it be quarantined or rendered harmless through targeted therapies that ignore the larger problems.
Kagan goes on to explain that we make a major mistake in defining al Qaeda as a terrorist group from whom the danger is an attack on America. Al Qaeda is a terrorist group, of course, but they define themselves differently. They have devoted most of their resources to “seizing and governing terrain and populations in the Muslim world. They see themselves as a global insurgency that uses terrorism, and its ability to field small irregular armies in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere that demonstrates the seriousness with which it takes that self-conception.”
Thinking of al Qaeda as a narrow threat of a small group of extremists hiding out in the mountains of villas of Pakistan, and assuming that allied groups all over the Middle East and Africa are just temporary fringe players is a major error.” Al Qaeda supporters are fanatics, willing ( in some cases) to die, but avoid the martyrdom they encourage in their followers. “Islam has a very strong tradition of seeing divine blessing or curse manifested in this-worldly success of failure.”
The state of weakness and indecision in the administration is truly frightening. “The threat is growing in size and capability while we are dismantling our defenses. Surely we should consider other approaches, and soon.”
Do read the whole thing, This is more important than we can imagine. As he says—all conditions are set for future attacks.
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