Monday, September 15, 2008

Are We Safer?

I would have posted this on September 11 but it's hard to keep up when you are on vacation. Anyway, are we safer? I would say yes, for several reasons.

First, we were not really paying attention to possible terrorist activity prior to September 11. This was a bi-partisan problem.

More important is what has happened to al Qaeda in the last seven years. While bin Ladin is still at large, a number of al Qaeda leaders are dead or in jail. Their communications structure has been disrupted. What had existed as a de-centralized organization is now a bunch of independent cells. They can no longer coordinate well enough to do anything on the scale of 9/11. While it is true that the Taliban is gaining strength in Pakistan, it is unclear how much al Qaeda has profited from this.

Then there is Iraq. Al Qaeda sent tens of thousands of jihadists there. Most are dead or captured.

Internationally, bin Laden's stock is down. Immediately after 9/11 he was seen as the hero who brought the mighty America to its knees. Now he is seen as the person who provoked America into overthrowing Afghanistan. He announced that the fight for Iraq was of central importance. not only did his forces loose, they also killed Muslims indiscriminately. Bin Laden is now seen as a loose cannon rather than as a leader.

Of course, none of this means that we can declare victory and quit. That's what makes the next election important.

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