Is Al Qaeda Winning the War on Terror?
How smart is this man?
What about Al Qaeda and the situation in Iraq anyhow? Is my previous depressing outlook the only possible scenario? Of course not, it could be far worse. We are so fixated on our own perspective of the world in the USA that many people can hardly imagine that we are fighting an enemy with an agenda and world view of their own. I know it’s comforting to think that Al Qaeda is just a bunch of Muslim fanatics who want to kill us all because Allah commands them to. The reality is much more complicated, and in the spirit of not underestimating our enemies, here is further observation and speculation.
Al Qaeda is a sophisticated modern insurgent group that was forged by events in the Middle East going back a century or more. They are a product of of their time, and decisions made in Washington and Jerusalem played a role in Al Qaeda’s creation. Actions don’t happen in a vacuum, the direct military deployment of US forces in the Persian Gulf in 1991 was a huge change in US policy and an incredibly aggressive move on our part. It would be like if Iran invaded Mexico, people in the US would notice and some of them would take action.
My point is that Al Qaeda has a strategy and agenda that is a a lot more sophisticated than “Let’s behead westerners.” They also have a very clear cut goal…force westerners out of the Middle East. The mujahadeen forced the Russians out of Afghanistan, Al Qaeda plans to drive the US and Israel out of the Middle East the same way. And to get America to leave, they had to pull off something like the Marine Barracks bombing in Beirut, but on a greater scale. To do that, they had to get us to make ourselves vulnerable on the ground in the Middle East.
And 911 did the trick like nobody’s business. A case can be made that the purpose of 911 was to get the US to send troops to the Middle East where Al Qaeda could attack them. And it succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, the USA literally began a crusade in the Iraq and Afghanistan, sending hundreds of thousands of troops to the ends of the Earth at fabulous expense, where Al Qaeda could attack them at will. Even if Al Qaeda doesn’t get a spectacular victory, they will slowly spend us and bleed us to death like Russian’s fate in Afghanistan. That at least is Osama’s avowed plan.
My point here is that Al-Qaeda wants us to stay in Iraq! The people who are arguing that pulling out of Iraq is surrender to Al-Qaeda have it backwards. If we can manage to get out of Iraq properly it will be sticking it to Al-Qaeda. However, the proof is in the pudding. There hasn’t been an Al Qaeda attack in the USA since 911. I’m going to predict the next one, you heard it here first. If Congress passes a bill setting a timetable for US withdrawal from Iraq, that’s when Al Qaeda will strike. Al Qaeda has shown an ability to strike where they need when they need.
So mark my words. In the weeks or maybe months following the passage of an Iraq withdrawal bill, Al Qaeda bombs will go off in the USA again. The right will feel completely vindicated and will call for redoubling our military efforts, the left will continue its tailspin into unreality as it understands neither the enemy nor the right, and the conspiracy folks will go nuts claiming Al Qaeda’s attack was a false flag operation. Yes, like Pavlov’s dogs we will react just the way Al Qaeda intended. Americans will turn on each other with renewed fervour, the homeland security industry will make ever more profit, and like lambs to the slaughter our soldiers will be sent to Iraq and Afghanistan to die in wars that may very well be making our enemies stronger and our friends weaker.
If Bush actually had a clear plan, I wouldn’t be so pessimistic, but “we’re winning, just you wait and see” isn’t much of a plan. Who knows. Maybe Bush will pull a rabbit out of his hat and the much vaunted surge will show positive results this summer. Stranger things have happened, I wouldn’t bet on it though.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, it is central to illustrating the post, and it is an historically important image. The copyright on the image is held by Al Jazeera TV.)