Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 2, 2011

AL QAEDA'S LOSING STREAK.... The terrorist network has taken a beating recently. Good.

Analysts said Bin Laden's death amounted to a double blow for Al Qaeda, after its sermons of anti-Western violence seemed to be rendered irrelevant by the wave of political upheaval rolling through the Arab world.

"It comes at a time when Al Qaeda's narrative is already very much in doubt in the Arab world," said Martin S. Indyk, vice president and director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution. "Its narrative was that violence was the way to redeem Arab honor and dignity. But Osama bin Laden and his violence didn't succeed in unseating anybody."

Right. Al Qaeda told the Muslim world that the only way to be free is to commit acts of violence. The terrorist network's message has been proven false in recent months, rejected by the very people it was intended to influence.

It's against this backdrop that al Qaeda was "diminished," even before this year's developments.

Indeed, the Guardian had a report in September 2009 on al Qaeda "finding it difficult to attract recruits or carry out spectacular operations in western countries." Counter-terrorism officials said the terrorist network "faced a crisis that was severely affecting its ability to find, inspire and train willing fighters."

The New York Times had a related report soon after, which reached a similar conclusion: "[I]n important ways, Al Qaeda and its ideology of global jihad are in a pronounced decline."

Emile Nakhleh, who headed the CIA's strategic analysis program on political Islam until 2006, noted that al Qaeda is finding it "harder to raise money." Audrey Kurth Cronin, a professor at the National War College in Washington, added, "I think Al Qaeda is in the process of imploding. This is not necessarily the end. But the trends are in a good direction."

And that was long before U.S. forces took out Osama bin Laden himself.

This is not to say the threat is gone; it's not. The point is that the terrorist network that executed the attacks of 9/11 is weaker and is less capable, and this larger trend is clearly heartening.

Steve Benen 12:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (19)

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So, in many peoples eyes, bin Laden died a martyr!

But the good news is, for whom, and for how many?

The less, the better.

Normally, I'm against the death penalty.

I subscribe more to the John Donne school:
"...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee."

But, today, I'm all for the bell tolling for Osama bin Laden.

Let it toll away...

Posted by: c u n d gulag on May 2, 2011 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

It's too soon to be jumping in the streets and blowing your horns.

We have already lost countless lives and dollars in the GWOT.

The raid does raise serious concerns about Pakistan and the ISI.

I fear more fear lies ahead.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on May 2, 2011 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

What is so important about getting Bin Laden is the next time some terrorist political leader sends some poor dumb schmuck out to commit suicide for his God, the leader is going to have to know that he is signing his own death warrant.

That should give upper class politicians like Bin Laden pause. It is real easy to send some brainwashed lower class follower out to die if you are sitting safely in your luxury compound. It is tougher when you realize that eventually you will come face to face with a SEAL or maybe a smart bomb.

There is a real message in this for the House of Saud. Get control of the religious fundamentalists or your princely sons will die along with the children of poor farmers and shopkeepers.

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 2, 2011 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

I do not know much about the world of Islam, but I do think that the way Bin Laden was killed, as much as they will hate it, they will be grateful that this president had the body treated with the traditions of their world, it was cleansed, wrapped in a white cloth and lowered into the water. These people deeply care for the respect of their religion.

Posted by: j on May 2, 2011 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

We magnified the threat of Islamic terrorism for reasons that went way beyond its actual danger. While this danger is real and may not go away anytime soon, it's not too soon to ask if we can remove the metaphysical evil aspect from Islamic fundamentalism. Yes, it serves the interests of the Republican Party and the military-industrial complex to have a cosmic enemy. What it doesn't do is assess the threat realistically. We can protect ourselves without bankrutpting the nation or bringing about the very thing we loathe in others. It's up to us.

Posted by: walt on May 2, 2011 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Baby better come back later next week
'Cause you see I'm on a losing streak
I can't get no
Oh no no.

Posted by: charlie don't surf on May 2, 2011 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Im not a member of any group, political or otherwise, Wing Fung.

So lets go over what we do know.

OBL wasnt captured or killed during the previous administration.


I am not creditingr nor castigating either political party. Secondly I find football politics [my team right or wrong] to be detrimental.

Posted by: Kill Bill on May 2, 2011 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

One million dead.

Mr. Benen really eats up the neo-con/liberal hawk propaganda. In his defense, it would take bravery to stand up and say the whole terrorism threat has been overblown by 1000X since the very beginning. Better to just link to TNR and Brookings and go along with the tide. Of course, if you inadvertently add to the public's misinformation and misguided support for wars against Muslims, well, that's just a price American media schmucks are willing to pay.

"Martin S. Indyk, vice president and director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution. "Its narrative was that violence was the way to redeem Arab honor and dignity."

Perfect. Quotes from Martin Indyk. Another day in the sun for neocon liars.

Posted by: flubber on May 2, 2011 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

OK with me that Osama Bin Laden is gone and his network is imploding, but the real terrorist trend of the past few years is more worrisome. Al Quaeda foresaw and encouraged the decentralization and worldwide dispersal of terrorist cells and the independence of their activities. So now we have the terrorist virus everywhere. A tight top-down organization is OK for big projects, but the possibility that a gang of losers can blow up anybody's cafe is more scary in the long run.

Posted by: Brownell on May 2, 2011 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

How did Bin Laden hope to promote the jihad? By provoking a reaction from the U.S. and other western countries, and BushCheney obliged. The "terrorist network" never amounted to much except for their one lucky hit of 9/11. The Islamic world was probably never very enthusiastic about jihad, but they certainly resented the U.S. influence in many countries even before the invasions. Catching up with Bin Laden after 9 1/2 years only emphasizes how successful he was in his own objectives and how horribly bungled the U.S. reaction was.

Posted by: skeptonomist on May 2, 2011 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Catching up with Bin Laden after 9 1/2 years only emphasizes how successful he was in his own objectives and how horribly bungled the U.S. reaction was.

So, Obama cleans up another Bush/Cheney mess. Get 'er done, Mr. President. Get 'er done.

Posted by: AK Liberal on May 2, 2011 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

I have video proof that the troll calling himself Wing Fung is actually James O'Keefe.

Posted by: ManOutOfTime on May 2, 2011 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Osama bin Laden will always remain a hero to many of us, especially on the left.

@Wing Fung: speak for yourself. You sound more like a right wing poser than "many of us" on the left.

In reality, many of us on the left have been incredibly frustrated by the ineptness of the previous administration in that they farmed our the hunt for Bin Laden in Afghanistan to the locals who let him get away from Tora Bora.

Posted by: AK Liberal on May 2, 2011 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

A bit off subject. Today I've been punishing myself by listening to Faux news to see how they would spin this. So far they've interviewed Karl Rove, Ollie North, and Rudi Juliani with Dick Cheney waiting in the wings. They cut Rudi's interview very short when he seemed to be about to praise Obama's courage for authorizing the raid considering the possibility of failure. All in all Faux is downplaying Obama's role and in some cases (ollie North) going all the way back to the Reagan administration to make sure the real credit goes to the republicans. They're also crediting 'enhanced interrogation' with providing the lead that led to this raid. Typical Faux bullshit.

Posted by: sparky on May 2, 2011 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

My congratulations to our intelligence services and to our military for their success in eliminating Osama!

Now, we can turn our attention to eliminating the threat that is much more threatening of the future well being and security of our country. Rest assured, we of the wealthy, funding wing of the republican party have always recognized this bigger enemy Obama and the democrat party and will continue our efforts to eliminate them.

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on May 2, 2011 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Obama deserves all the credit for killing bin Laden. Who kept Club Gitmo open, knowing it could be a valuable source of information, when the idiots said it should be closed? Who kept the anti-terrorist teams in operation, knowing their expertise would be needed, when the idiots said they should be disbanded? Obama! Yeah Obama!

Posted by: Blue Texan on May 2, 2011 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

I remember in the last Presidential election, John McCain actually promised that as one of his first acts as President, he would close Guantanamo Bay! How stupid is that! Now we know that Gitmo was a valuable source of information, leading to the killing of bin Laden! I'll bet those Republicans feel pretty stupid now, huh?

Posted by: Blue Texan on May 2, 2011 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

You know the other thing I like about Obama offing bin Laden? None of this namby-pamby "oooooohhhh but we've got to give him a triiiiiii-alll!" crap the Republicans have been insisting on! Hey bin Laden, we got cher trial right here! BADA bing boom! Bullet to the head! How's THAT for a trial!? Obama is awe.....................sum!

Posted by: Blue Texan on May 2, 2011 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if there is any truth to the rumor that OBL was wearing a "Trump for President" button?

Posted by: Sod Buster on May 2, 2011 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK
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