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Will and Ruthlessness: On Ceding A Month To Jihad

It has been a dire month of troubling developments in the War on Terror. Michael Scheuer offers a sobering accounting of the past month in A Rewarding Month for Al-Qaeda and its Allies. After noting developments in Afghanistan, Yemen and Great Britain, he concludes with a reality check of sorts for the new American Congressional leadership.

United States: Beyond these positive developments, bin Laden, al-Zawahiri, their lieutenants and other jihadi leaders believe that they are on the brink of far greater good fortune—the much-talked-about "new direction" of U.S. policy in Iraq which may yield a near-term, phased withdrawal of the U.S.-led coalition's forces. Quite simply, that decision would allow bin Laden to score, in the perception of most Muslims, an unprecedented hat-trick of successes; U.S. withdrawal would: (1) Allow the redeployment of many Iraq-based foreign fighters to the Arabian Peninsula, Europe, the Levant and the Horn of Africa; (2) Dramatically increase bin Laden's stature as a leader—and almost a prophet—by disproving the Islamist leaders who damned him for bringing down the "unbeatable military wrath" of the United States on Muslims via the 9/11 attack and validating his contention that Washington lacked the will and ruthlessness to defeat Islamist forces; and, by far the most important, (3) Exponentially surpass the motivational power of the Afghan-Islamist defeat of the Soviet Union via the Arab-Islamist defeat of the United States, the world's second and last superpower.

Though the decision to 'redeploy' US forces from Iraq is yet to have been made, what is presented above is the concise prospectus. And Scheuer didn't even get around to Pakistan, where al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) bound closer to an assassination of Musharraf, a coup and control of Pakistan's nuclear weapons each day.