Have We Won the War on Terror?

May 3rd, 2011 at 11:03 am David Frum | 56 Comments |

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Has the war on terror already been won?

Or to put it another way: Is the killing of bin Laden a coup de grace rather than a turning point?

From the emergence of al Qaeda through 9/11, Islamic terrorist attacks against international targets grew steadily more complex and sophisticated: more personnel, more reach, more casualties.

From 9/11 onward, however, the trend ran in the opposite direction.

The Bali bombing of 2002 was less ambitious than 9/11, the 2004 Madrid train station attack less sophisticated than Bali, the London 7/7 bombings a big step down from Madrid. After 7/7, terror attacks outside the Middle East generally fail. The attempt on the German rail system in July 2006 fizzled when the bombs did not explode.

More often still, the plots are foiled before they can get off the ground, often because police have succeeded in penetrating the terror cell, as happened with the Canadian monuments plot of 2006 and the 2010 Portland Oregon plot.

Where terrorism is carried out successfully – as with Major Nidal Hassan’s Fort Hood rampage – it seems most often the work of a single self-motivated individual, and often one who is mentally disturbed.

Inside the Middle East, the terror groups that remain (Hamas and Hezbollah) look less like those autonomous “networks” that so worried analysts in the middle 2000s and much more like state actors (Hamas) or state proxies (Hezbollah). In both cases, terrorism has a “return address” and can be punished if not deterred. What’s happening in Afghanistan looks more like irregular warfare than terrorism. Iraq is evolving toward stability and security.

It’s too soon to pronounce any definitive conclusion. Security services are appropriately on watch for retaliation. But at risk of prematurity, I’d say: this is what success looks like.

In the wake of the success, some are arguing that terrorism must not have been much of a problem in the first place, certainly not an existential threat.

Defeated enemies always look weak. After the Cold War, it was the flaws in the Soviet system that looked more relevant than the strengths. But nothing is pre-ordained, and failure is always an option. It was possible, had the US reacted wrongly after 9/11, for al Qaeda to recruit more widely and strike again. It was possible that the US could have cracked down internally in ways that make the annoyances of the TSA seem in comparison (as indeed they are in reality) petty and trivial.

Power could have been seized in Saudi Arabia. (We see now how fragile these Mideast security states really are.) Or the Saudi state might have been penetrated by radical Islamism from within. (As has happened to a great extent in Pakistan.) We had reason in 2001 to fear that radical Islam might 10 years ought have gained money and nukes.

Instead, radical Islam was contained, marginalized, bypassed – and then shot above the eye by an American special forces team.

This victory cost more than it should have. American victories usually do: see Grant, Ulysses, campaigns of. This is often a wasteful country, one that dislikes anticipating security problems and that therefore often faces a steep learning curve when those problems materialize. But defeats are costlier still.


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56 Comments so far ↓

  • Watusie

    The entire concept of “the war on terror” was a farce, a drain down which poured trillions of dollars and thousands of lives. You can’t “win” a fiction.

    What “we’ve” done is delivered justice to man responsible for 9/11 and cleaned up another mess left behind by the Bush Administration.

    To even suggest that a comparison can be made to Bush’s folly and the American Civil War is an insult to the intelligence and historical knowledge of a junior high school student.

    • TerryF98

      +1

      The GWOT was a device to carry out the War in Iraq, a total waste of lives and money.

      • Smargalicious

        ^How anti-American can you folks get??

        Bush forcefully injected democracy into a state ruled by a maniacal despot, who was caught and hanged. Jealousy of this freedom by other Arabs was one of the root causes of the present Arab Spring.

        • Rob_654

          I recall all sorts of positive things being said when we were busy arming the Mujahideen fighters back when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan and that didn’t turn out so well for us.

          We don’t know who is behind all of these uprisings and may well find out that they are no more “friends” to us than who is in power now.

        • Smargalicious

          You have a good point.

    • JimBob

      How Neoconservatives Conquered Washington – and Launched a War

      http://www.antiwar.com/orig/lind1.html

      The war in Iraq was conceived by 25 neoconservative intellectuals, most of them Jewish, who are pushing President Bush to change the course of history.

      http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/white-man-s-burden-1.14110

    • armstp

      Taking out Bin Laden through a surgical strike from good intelligence work proves that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were a complete waste of time. If anything the wars created more terrorism. Fighting terrorism is and has always been about good police and intelligence work. This has been proven time and time again.

  • Gypsum Fantastic

    It’d be nice if Frum could acknowledge just how off-base he was in “The End of Evil”. According to him, we needed to introduce mandatory ID cards, abandon support for a Palestinian state, blockade North Korea and take various other completely batshit courses of action in order to stand a chance of victory in this “war” (I use inverted commas because real wars traditionally have a specific enemy and a specific goal). How did that one work out?

  • medinnus

    No, we lost it.

    We spent over a trillion dollars to hunt one man down and kill him, while losing thousands of American lives, reducing the United States to a police state, and one of our Presidents authorizing torture.

    We sacrificed treasure, our fellows, and our sacred honor, and as a result now have more terrorist enemies than when we started, as Gitmo, AG, torture, and right-wing anti-islamic propaganda allowed terrorists to recruit and fundraise beyond their wildest dreams.

    That’s winning? Oy vey.

    • CanadianLiberal

      +1

      The way to fight terrorism is through education, humanitarian aid to build infrastructure, and human rights. Ensure that the men, women and children in these poverty-stricken countries have their basic needs met and an education, and you practically eliminate the pool from which terrorist organizations can recruit. Only people with literally nothing left to lose are willing to blow themselves up.

  • TerryF98

    The recent successful killing of Bin Laden is the way to deal with terrorists, the way not to do it is to wholesale invade countries. That route leads to casualties, huge costs and more terrorists due to collateral damage. Fight smart.

  • satrap

    Who knows, but now is as good a time as any to say a very, very quiet “Yes” and move on. Or do we have to wait for 1000 years until every Muslim is a progressive member of Planned Parenthood?

  • midcon

    Despite the waste of treasure (money and lives) we learned that classical warfare may be an anachronism. Identifiable (uniformed) enemy, distinct battlelines, formal declarations, rules of engagement for both sides, peace treaties, and all the trappings. If that was war, what has this been? Is there a definition of the war on terrorism? Does it include Iraq and Afghanistan or are those aspects of a more classical conflict a separate endeavor? Can you ever win such a war, when you include individual acts of terrorism, such as that at Ft Hood?

    I never believed in the war on terror as a war per se anymore than the Cold War was a war in the classical sense. The conflict, whatever name you give it, is an enduring characteristic of fanaticism that is answered neither by defeating the fanatics or curing them of their fanaticism because you can never get them all. As long as there are individuals who believe that the world must conduct itself according to their desires or suffer real or perceived injustice and are willing to employ violence to that end, there will always be terrorism. Consequently, we must remain eternally viligant and eternally willing to take extreme measures when appropriate.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    First impression: the word “Iraq” doesn’t appear anywhere in this article.

    There was a time when patriots were willing to die to defend their ideals. Now most people are willing to kill their ideals in order to avoid dying — and think they are patriots. Most of them are just cowards.

  • indy

    I like E.J. Dionne’s answer to the title question:

    While no one pretends that the threat of terrorism has gone away, one would like to hope that the country can now turn a page, to use the phrase Barack Obama invoked so powerfully during the 2008 campaign. It’s why I think young Americans were especially animated by the news of bin Laden’s death. They do not want to be the generation whose experience is characterized by their country’s engagement in what seems like an endless series of foreign wars. But neither do they relish coming of age at a moment when so many speak of the possibility of American decline. The events in Pakistan are not so much a remedy as a sign of hope that the United States can avoid both fates.

    (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/post/yes-we-can-turn-the-page/2011/05/02/AFjftFaF_blog.html)

  • LFC

    Andrew Sullivan puts together a great synopsis and takedown of “The Big Lie”, i.e. that torture secured the information that lead to the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

    http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/05/the-republican-spin.html

    But those who just love torture won’t let this stand in the way of what they “know”, and won’t make them listen to the people who are actually experts in the art of interrogation. Noooooo. Much (most?) of the right-wing like Antonin Scalia still believe that “24″ was a documentary. They’ll always believe that the use of actual time-proven interrogation techniques rather than torture shows a lack of will rather than an abundance of sense.

    • Watusie

      Depends on who you mean by “we”. If you mean Bushies, the answer is yes – recall GWB’s statements of disinterest in and unconcern about the whereabouts of OBL.

      If you mean everyone else, the answer is no. Especially if you are President Obama, who fulfilled a campaign promise to find OBL and take him out.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    good article, I take exception with this passage (though I understand it was written as pure conjecture) : It was possible that the US could have cracked down internally in ways that make the annoyances of the TSA seem in comparison (as indeed they are in reality) petty and trivial.

    No way. Would never have happened. I am not saying it could never happen (a nuclear bomb being detonated in NYC might) but, and I am from the NYC area, we bounced back very quickly. This has been the perpetual mistake of our enemies; they have no idea how effing resilient we are.

    Anyway, the war on terror has been around for a lot longer than 10 years, before jihadists we had radical commies. We also had Timothy McVeigh. We will always have extremists. The war on terror will never end as long as we have free will.

    • LFC

      Anyway, the war on terror has been around for a lot longer than 10 years, before jihadists we had radical commies.

      Even the war on radical Islamic terrorists has been going on a lot longer than 10 years. It was a top Clinton priority. One of his proposed budget items was increased funding to fight these people, but that proposal was shot down by Republicans who called it frivolous.

      Bush then took office and immediately took his eye off the ball of Islamic terrorism. His Attorney General Ashcroft famously removing it from the Justice Dept’s priority list. It wasn’t until Bush’s failure to protect our county from the 9/11 attack that they suddenly “found religion”, but proceeded to screw up left and right.

      In the war on Islamic terrorists, the Dems actually have a significantly stronger record.

  • Primrose

    I’m going to overlook for a moment Mr. Frum’s assumption that we reacted exactly right after 911 an address the main question. Did we win?

    On the one hand, terrorism is a tactic not an enemy. So we can never win because it will always be used in warfare. On the other hand, we are speaking of specific groups with specific agendas and they still seem to be around though less strong than they used to be. So in that regard, one would have to say not yet.

    And yet, I think we have won. The real power of terrorism is the terror. It is random and rare because that it doesn’t need to be certain or often. In many ways, too much terrorism reduces its effectiveness. And for us in America, there was a sense that we were helpless, too big to succeed. Every act against these people spawned ten more because we are so powerful, so able to destroy. And despite being this giant, who smashes all in our path, we couldn’t even catch Bin Laden, like a mouse running around an elephant, or perhaps more appropriately the mouse of Tom and Jerry. We felt like fools.

    And now we are not. We are able to catch him, using specialities of America. Our soldiers may care if they live or die, may get bored of war and mayhem, but we are precise and well-trained and (generally) disciplined. We do not depend on a single, charismatic leader . Our entire government can change and still we are able to get the job done. Also, we are more patient than the world gives us credit.

    And we know that about ourselves now. We know we can outlast them ( or at least one of them). Thus, the fear becomes manageable, containable, not terror, not panic, not despair.

    Obviously, a much worse attack could change that, but then again, look at the Japanese. In all the discussions about why they seem so orderly, so together in the face of utter devastation, nobody says because they went through worse and survived. Knowing you can survive disaster changes the game entirely.

  • Deep South Populist

    I see no indication this phony “War of Terror” will be ending any time soon. None whatsoever.

    The people who run this nation at the highest level in both parties do not know what it means to actually end a war.

    The last war the USA officially ended was World War 2 in 1945.

    Consider today’s quote from Leon Panetta a supposed lifelong liberal and Obama’s next Secretary of Defense:

    the [OBL] killing was a major milestone, but not the end of Al Qaeda or administration efforts in the war on terror.

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0511/54193.html

    OK, so Panetta says the OBL killing will not end the war on terror.

    So the question naturally arises when will the war on terror end?

    He didn’t say. They never say. No one ever says. Bush didn’t say, and so far neither has Obama or any of his proxies.

    In my opinion, the implied answer to the question “when will the war on terror end” is never.

    We are looking at a Forever War here folks.

    Perpetual war requires a perpetual enemy. The perpetual enemy in this case is “terrorism.”

    Obama’s anti-war supporters really need to wise up.

    Obama abolished torture but otherwise has continued every major Bush/Cheney war policy, including absurd levels of defense spending, Gitmo and the Patriot Act, and also launched a new war in Libya.

    • medinnus

      Obama got my vote when McCain added that addle-headed Christianist to his ticket.

      Obama has reneged on every campaign promise of his I gave a damn about. He will not get my vote in 2012, even if that means “None of the above” (if the GOP run Pawn or someone worse). Definitely Gary Johnson or Ron Paul.

  • Deep South Populist

    I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class thug for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902–1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

    - General Smedley Butler, winner of two Congressional Medals of Honor, 1935

  • advocatusdiaboli

    We haven’t won any war—anymore than the fratricide of Stonewall Jackson ended the Civil War. Al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism had long moved on from his immediate control due to his isolation.

  • Diomedes

    Have We Won the War on Terror?

    No, because ‘terror’ (i.e. ‘terrorism’) is a tactic. It’s not a tangible thing to be defeated, any more than defeating Germany in WWII ended the ‘war on blitzkrieg’.

    This nations predilection towards always having to use the ‘war’ label is also getting tiresome. The ‘war on drugs’. The ‘war on poverty’. What the hell does that exactly mean? That we firebomb fields filled with plants and shoot poor people? Oh wait, don’t answer that…..

  • Russnet

    Good piece Mr. Frum. Yes, with a bullet in bin Laden’s head, the zeitgeist is over which declared that historical battle a ‘war.’ To the extent it was, the USA just ‘won.’ Totally agree, the triviality of so much of the decade-long public debates we’ve been consumed with – essentially a rhetorical coloring of the American flag, an argument about principals where principal held less sway than in the classical sense of military war due to the individual criminality of 9/11 – was hugely preferable, albeit hugely discordant, to what might have occurred had the fourth plane hit it’s target. Anyone who thinks the can of whoop-ass we opened up was too big has no idea. Let’s get on with the 21st Century.

  • Gray Area

    Have We Won the War on Terror?

    I find it really sad that professional (supposedly) western journalists are still using the cowardly expression ‘the war on terror’.

    Terror is a tactic, not western civilization’s enemy. When professional western journalists are afraid to even name western civilization’s enemy, then our enemy’s terrorist tactics are being successfully utilized.

    The best name that I have found, to date, for western civilization’s enemy is ‘militant Islamic extremists’. Again, it’s really sad that professional western journalists don’t have the courage to utilize it.

  • armstp

    Juan Cole has a very good piece on the reaction or rather the non-reaction about the Bin Laden death in the Arab world.

    See it here:

    http://www.juancole.com/2011/05/the-muslim-world-sounds-off-on-bin-ladens-demise.html

    The Muslim World Sounds off on Bin Laden’s Demise

    Usama Bin Laden, a mass killer, passed virtually unmourned from the scene. There were no demonstrations against his killing in the Arab world. A few Taliban protested in Quetta and Afghanistan, as one might expect. Mostly Muslims denounced him and expressed relief he was gone.

    Bin Laden carried out 9/11 to begin a big political and social movement. Nearly 10 years later the vast majority of Muslims did not trust him and many seem glad to see the back of him, while large numbers had decided that he was irrelevant to their lives.

    Bin Laden’s passing is, then, an anti-climax. A nothing. Terrorism is just garbage, and produces nothing but garbage. It has mostly been taken out, with nothing but the stench hanging in the air. Most Muslims have moved on. So should Americans.

  • James Cody

    “had the US reacted wrongly after 9/11″

    Had the US reacted wrongly??? Are you still holding on to the faint hope that some day the Iraq War will not be judged as the wrong reaction?

    We should have killed bin Laden 5 years ago. al Qaeda should have been completely dismantled by now. Mission Accomplished could have been declared for real by now. But none of this happened in a timely fashion specifically because the Iraq War was the completely wrong reaction to 9/11. It sucked resources, troops, capital, and good will (amont our allies and in the Muslim world) away from where the enemy was. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, no WMDs, no capacity or ability to obtain WMDs, and no real relationships with al Qaeda. The Iraq War was a complete detour that sidetracked us from being able to fight the actual enemy. We are where we are now DESPITE the Iraq War (despite taking the wrong action), not BECAUSE OF the Iraq War.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “Had the US reacted wrongly??? Are you still holding on to the faint hope that some day the Iraq War will not be judged as the wrong reaction?”

    He certainly is.

    And this is why, no matter how eloquent he may be on domestic issues, I can never give David Frum my full-throated support and respect. It’s hard to stand up for someone who persistently refuses to honestly acknowledge and learn from his mistakes.

  • Houndentenor

    This is a victory. It’s not the end. I think that we have disrupted enough of the network (and especially the ability to launder money to finance big operations) but it would not be that hard for a few people or even individuals acting along to create a great deal of panic and fear. This isn’t done and while I am not very superstitious I do not like people tempting fate.

  • Deep South Populist

    I just read Andrew Sullivan’s article on torture on the Daily Beast.

    In this article, Andrew Sullivan presents what he calls “evidence” that waterboarding did not get US intelligence the critical information they needed to ultimately locate OBL.

    Sullivan’s “evidence” is:

    1) one paragraph in the NY Times quoting an anonymous sources
    2) an article from the AP quoting anonymous sources
    3) an article from some hack at firedoglake

    What a joke.

    • medinnus

      ..and yet, whatever you may think of the cited sources, there are NO citations from any source to prove that committing war crimes made any difference. I don’t find Sullivan’s evidence as weak as you do, but it sure beats trusting Faux News’ lies and pro-torture drum-beating.

      There is no evidence to support the contention that torture provided any intelligence in this matter. Don’t be so quick to excuse the traitors who ordered torture, and thereby provided recruitment fodder and enhanced fundraising ability to terrorists.

    • Primrose

      And now Donald Rumsfield.

  • indy

    Rumsfeld seems to confirm what Sullivan is saying: http://www.newsmax.com/Headline/DonaldRumsfeld-gitmo-waterboarding-osamabinladen/2011/05/02/id/394820

    Although he is being a little mealy-mouthed about it, and he leaves the door open some depending on how you parse the words.

  • Russnet

    Many liberals long ago adjudged the Iraq war to be a mistake. Many Democrats, while initially in support of aggressive protection of national security following 9/11, later adjudged the March 2003 invasion a mistake (some seemingly out of political opportunism), undertaken and managed poorly by the wrong president with overriding conflicts of interest.

    Many Republicans in fact also came to feel over time that the Iraq war was a mistake (or at least didn’t play out as anticipated and should have been cut short) and a diversion from the counter-terrorism mission, but view the error in judgment less harshly due to the perceived threat of WMDs after the brutality of 9/11, along with Hussein’s track record of flaunting international norms. Yet something regrettable is not necessarily something mistaken.

    Many others viewed Iraq then and now as a worthy effort, a proposition not wholly unsupported by the evidence of the state of Iraq, 2011. The hawkish view (not necessarily neo-con, tho’ I know how some love to castigate neo-conservatism) remains that the appropriate response to protection of national security was taken, an aggressive move against a hegemon (not to mention lawless tyrant and classic terrorist against his own people) in the region which accomplished numerous geopolitical objectives, not the least of which was ensuring that there was no imminent WMD threat, and the virtual surrounding of Iran, the world’s premiere state-sponsor of terrorism (two positive outcomes I have found liberals consistently fail to fathom, much less agree with).

    In short, there are widely divergent viewpoints pro and con toward America’s foreign policy and military mission in south Asia during the tumultuous decade since 9/11. Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20, just as time never stands still. You might have a mindset and value system which vehemently disagrees with what happened. You are entitled to that opinion, along with your vote. Others are not so lucky. Which, essentially, is what the argument remains about.

    (And you might never believe this but, we wish it weren’t so, too.)

    I tend to think the final chapter in the post 9/11 decade, where now we see the younger middle-eastern generations across a wide swath rising up against despotic and extremist ways, remains unwritten. The next-to-final chapter may have just been completed (supra, Frum’s point). The promise remains for a positive ending, along with a brighter future.

  • Deep South Populist

    @mendinnus/Indy/Primrose

    Donald Rumsfeld? Seriously? He is about the least likely person to tell the truth about anything with the possible exception of Cheney.

    In the same Newsmax article Sullivan cites, Rumsfeld is quoted as saying this:

    “The United States Department of Defense did not do waterboarding for interrogation purposes to anyone.”

    • TerryF98

      You support torture then?

      The information about the courier did not come from KSM. It came from another detainee in a black site. KSM was asked about it a long time after the waterboarding and denied any knowledge of this person, they found that denial suspicious and investigated further.

      Now If torture worked why did KSM not spill this information under torture? He surely knew the nickname.

      “Now the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, has added her voice to those saying the Bush administration’s use of torture in black sites operated by the CIA did not contribute to finding bin Laden. In response to a reporter’s questions, she said:

      Absolutely not, I do not. I happen to know a good deal about how those interrogations were conducted, and in my view nothing justifies the kind of procedures that were used. …

      We are in the process of a big study on the detention and interrogation of the detainees on the Intelligence Committee. The Republicans have pulled out of the study. So this has been carried out by the Democratic staff essentially. They have gone through more than 3 million emails, cables, pieces of paper looking for this.

      To date, the answer to your question is no. Nothing has been found to indicate this came out of Guantanamo. And people were questioned, but there were no positive answers as to the identity of this number one courier.”

      “The United States Department of Defense did not do waterboarding for interrogation purposes to anyone.”

      That is because the DOD did not waterboard, the CIA waterboarded. He is correct in his statement.

      • Deep South Populist

        Of course I don’t support it. But if it worked, it worked. I don’t support historical revisionism either.

        • indy

          Worked, didn’t work, I don’t really care. The end justifies the means is the battle cry of the pathetically self-serving and morally bankrupt.

          And once again, I see we are quibbling over the site rather than the substance. How about CBS:

          The question of the role such techniques played in this mission arose after the Associated Press reported that it was two key detainees — Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libi — who gave American officials the nickname of a courier who ultimately led U.S. intelligence officials to bin Laden. The two detainees reportedly gave the information up at foreign CIA “black sites,” where waterboarding occurred.

          However, the AP fleshed out its report later in the day. Citing unnamed former officials, the AP wrote, “Mohammed did not discuss al-Kuwaiti while being subjected to the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding… He acknowledged knowing him many months later under standard interrogation.

          http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20059438-503544.html

        • busboy33

          “But if it worked, then it worked.”

          . . . and if it didn’t, then it didn’t.
          http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2011/05/did_torture_help_capture_bin_laden.php?ref=fpblg

        • TerryF98

          It did not work otherwise the Bush team would have managed to get this info out of KSM they did not otherwise why would they be asking him about it years later?

        • medinnus

          Still waiting for you to provide evidence it did work. Clearly, we tortured many, many people to no effect. The interrogation specialists from the FBI claim no actionable data was ever gotten through torture.

          And yes, Rumsfeld is a lying sack – but if he could exonerate torture, I think he would in a New York minute.

  • Nanotek

    It doesn’t make a lot of sense that Bush’s torture team extracted actionable evidence because Obama accomplished in two years with a cold trail what Bush couldn’t do in 7 years.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    “Al Qaeda once sent four terrorists to China: One was sent to blow up a bus, but he wasn’t able to squeeze onto it; one was sent to blow up a supermarket, but the bomb was stolen from his basket; one was sent to blow up a train, but tickets were sold-out; finally, one succeeded in bombing a coal mine, and hundreds of workers died. He returned to Al Qaeda’s headquarters to await the headlines about his success, but it was never reported by the Chinese press. Al Qaeda executed him for lying.”

    “Muammar Gadhafi went to a school and asked the schoolchildren if any of them knew what the word tragedy meant. One child raised his hand and said if a boy got hit by a car while riding a bike and was killed, that would be a tragedy. Gadhafi said, “no that would be an accident.” Another said if a house burned down and a whole family died, that would be a tragedy. Gadhafi said no, that would be a great loss. Finally one child raised his hand and said “if brother Gadhafi and his whole family were blown up and killed that would be a tragedy.” Gadhafi beamed and said “that is right, and why would it be a tragedy.” The child said “well it must be, because it certainly would not have been an accident and sure as hell would not be a great loss.”

  • valkayec

    Although not one who favors killing for revenge, I too was happy to see the end of bin Laden. His death helped expunge much of the anxiety that hung over the U.S. during the last ten years. But removing one head of the many headed hydra beast that consists of al Qaeda, its many affiliates, and other terrorist organizations will not stop the violence.

    bin Laden’s quested for a mythically perfect Caliphate, thinking that if only the Middle East returned to a past ideal that never existed then all would be right in the Middle East. But his dream was based on fiction rather than 21st century reality. He’s gone now, and so too I hope will be al-Zawahiri.

    Nevertheless, there is a better and more important question to ask:

    1) Why has the Middle East spawned so many people who have taken up violence, even against their own people? Can we help change that dynamic without being seen as overlords or invaders?

    2) What has the U.S. done wrong that it has become a target? Can we change our policies to be perceived as less of an antagonist?

    3) Can the situation be fixed, and if so, how? To kill a hydra, it must be struck in the heart. But what is the heart of this of this hydra? It’s certainly not one person, not one head. So what is the heart?

  • sdspringy

    As we discuss the “War on Terror”, a term suddenly back in vogue after being expunged from the American lexicon upon Obama’s arrival, and the methods used to “win” said war we are left somewhat confused.

    How can the Left support killing an unarmed, non uniformed wearing, person not actually near a battlefield?
    How can the Left wring their hands over “EIT” and water boarding yet seem perfectly comfortable with execution?
    Will the AG, Holden, now bring Obama up on charges of unilateral military action against civilians in an allied country? And if not why not?

    And how will the Left defend itself from the Left? Even now college professors are proclaiming the lawlessness of the act, human rights groups asking who is the terrorist now. Will the MSM support these Leftist core groups or turn on them and support more targeted execution in Libya, Egypt, as commanded by our bold Commander-in-Chief?
    Very interesting.

  • JeffreyGoldfarb

    The problem may be now that we look for easy rather than smart targets.http://www.deliberatelyconsidered.com/2011/05/easy-targets/

  • busboy33

    Of course we haven’t . . . because the concept of a “War” on Terrorism is silly. You can’t wage an actual War on a behavior pattern. There will always be terrorists . . . just as there have always been terrorists. Its as silly an idea as the War on Drugs or the War on Poverty or any other metaphorical “War”.

    Now, the War on bin Laden — yes. We won. He lost.

  • mickster99

    Bring on the Deathers. Is bin Laden really dead? Just turn into the rightwing wingnuts. Fox news sickens me. Release death head shots for the Gellers of the world. Photoshopped no doubt. These morons are sickening absolutely revolting. Fox and Trump. A marriage made in a sewer.

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  • nuser

    “So what is the heart?”
    Ignorance!

  • Harmony.The.Critic

    Two question.
    Am i the only one wondering why these people are mad and hurt?
    Am i the only one who wants to hear THEIR pain and suffering?
    Maybe, just maybe, oh, i don’t know,
    These people deserve, what’s the word for it…
    PEACE??