[W]e need to remember that because it's an umbrella organization it doesn't really ultimately matter that much whether bin Laden is captured or al Qaida's key cells and leadership are destroyed. This movement will reemerge and mutate again and again. It will be seen over a period of a decade or more and the forces inside this region are forces that will not go away.
[F]rom al Qaida's perspective they can make a claim that they are in fact winning, not losing, the war on terrorism. The victory we have won in Afghanistan is tenuous at best. It is more Kabulstan than Afghanistan. The fighting goes on. The United States is tied down there. The problems of Central Asia continue.
As a result of 9/11 the United States has been pushed away from its traditional Arab allies. There are great tensions between the United States and the Arab Islamic world, partly as a result of our reaction to those crises.
From al Qaida's viewpoint Iraq is by any standard not an American victory as yet. We have seen a contained secular movement replaced by deep divisions within the Islamic world and Islamists emerging as a serious threat within Iraq. Al Qaida has so far done more to dominate the Arab media than the United States. The U.S. effort to win the information battle and hearts and minds has been sufficiently inept so it gets condemned even in the Jerusalem Post. We need to be very careful about what has happened there. We have found our calls for democracy and reform often seen in the Arab world and not without support from or encouragement from al Qaida and imperialism, as trying to dominate the region, as overthrowing the regime. We have seen what are often good initiatives twisted and turned into what appears to be the U.S. enforcing its own dual standard.
This does not mean we are losing the war on terrorism and al Qaida's perspectives are not the perspectives we have in the United States and the West. But I think it is very important in looking at what is happening here to see not only how al Qaida may view this but other Salafi Islamists and other extremists and terrorist groups throughout this region.
I should mention one last point. The Arab-Israeli conflict remains an open wound amid all of this. A wound that divides us from Europe as well as from the Arab world. A wound which threatens Israel. And it is a wound which more and more if you look at Islamist extremists is one which they have picked up. On 9/11 it seems fair to say that the Arab-Israeli conflict was largely ignored by these movements and it was also seen at best as a secondary priority. Since that time they have capitalized on that as they have on Iraq.
Best New Blog finalist - 2003 Koufax Awards
A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.
Lo alecha ha-m'lacha ligmor, v'lo atah ben chorin l'hibateyl mimenah.