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Where Will We Fight al-Qaeda?

Al-Qaeda is in Pakistan, Lebanon, Gaza, Somalia, Algeria and in other places America seems unwilling to send her troops to fight the enemy that has killed thousands of our civilians and soldiers. And within the context of the relentless calls to disengage from Iraq forthwith, Cliff May asks quite succinctly, Where Will We Fight al-Qaeda?

That leaves only two places where we know for sure al Qaeda and its associates are operating actively — and very lethally — and where the U.S. can send its best warriors against them with the approval of the local, elected governments. Those places are, of course, Iraq and Afghanistan.

But many politicians, looking at polls showing Americans fatigued by a war that was not supposed to be so prolonged or arduous, now favor withdrawing from Iraq — retreating from the battlefield al Qaeda calls the central front in their jihad against us.

And does anyone seriously believe that, after leaving Iraq, we would not soon exit Afghanistan as well? How many suicide bombings of police academies, market places and mosques would be required to get us out — slaughters that the major media will, as usual, blame not on the killers but on the “foreign occupation”?

If this is where members of Congress want to go, they ought to be honest about where it leads: Al Qaeda will still be waging a war against us, but we will no longer be waging much of a war against al Qaeda.

May is spot on.

It's as if to say, "If we can't get it at a drive through, it's too hard."

My grandfathers, one a Pearl Harbor survivor, would hang their heads, ashamed of their country's collective compulsion toward outright laziness (intellectual and otherwise) and self-loathing.


The reality, of course, is that if we exit, al Qaeda will perceive it as a victory. That, no matter what some people may consider alternatives. We are however, as you point out, now facing al Qaeda clones (or "franchises") in Somalia, in Pakistan, and more recently announced in Lebanon.

One of the problems that we face, unfortunately, is that our resources are spread thin, the enemies' tactics are many and unpredictable, and the possibility of their influence spreading is high.

"Some" would have it that we accelerated the terrorism by going to Afgahnistan and then Iraq. The reality is that without these actions, the Islamic jihadist dominoes would have tumbled unimpeded.

The "big picture" though wonders how we defeat al Qaeda which is an amorphous entity. Yes, as May wrote, "Al Qaeda will still be waging a war against us, but we will no longer be waging much of a war against al Qaeda."

Al-Qaeda and similar terrorist groups require the right sort of environmental conditions to flourish. War zones are perfect. So are poverty-stricken 3rd world countries with little rule of law.

A vital weapon in the war against terrorism is to deprive terrorists of those environmental requirements by helping these countries create better lives for their residents. And not by exporting Democracy and/or Christianity, but by helping their people flourish in the way that they want. Eventually, the citizenry of the home country will become the front line in the war against terror in their own country. They'll resist anyone who threatens their new found peace and prosperity.

Unfortunately I think that no matter when U.S. forces leave Iraq that al Qaeda is going to claim a propaganda victory. They don't need to prove they did it because the people who inform the world of "news" won't hold them to account on it.

Hopefully, when they do claim victory, a counter message is prepared to be put out there.