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June 08, 2010

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Now with 100% more blowback?

Blowback is a feature, not a bug, to the Ghost-of-Vampire-Zombie-Dick/Liz-Cheney Right. Look at how popular 9/11 made George W. Bush, a man who needed Ralph Nader and an unbelievably hackish Supreme Court decision to ascend to the throne.

And look at how expertly they've now pivoted, such that once some mostly-lone yahoo manages to be a competent terrorist and succeed in a manner more spectacular than the typical American run-of-the mill mass shooting spree, they will be on the teevee that day saying this is a direct result of Obama's "soft" on terrorism approach and blame the President directly for the attack and there will be calls for him to resign or be impeached. And the talking heads in the media will furrow their brows and nod right along with them, right up until the inaugeration of the Palin/Gingrich administration. It will be Mission Accomplished for them.

You know its coming.

Eric, when the underwear bomber failed followed by the failure of the Times Square bomber, a recurring theme in left of center quarters was that these two failures depict how degraded Al Qaeda and others are, with the result that we should tone down our fear of future attacks, etc.

This degradation, proved by absence of successful attacks on the US post 9-11, up until the Ft. Hood incident, is a fact. This didn't just happen because Al Qaeda et al changed their minds.

What you see as exclusively blow back is, more realistically, the product of an ongoing campaign, waged by both sides, in which the Al Qaeda et al side, while still in the fight and still able to attract recruits, is much less capable, much less proficient than it once was.

Whether we call this a War on Terror or some less dramatic euphemism, it is something akin to war. Because our efforts to prosecute the war have produced resistance rather than capitulation doesn't mean that, on balance, past and ongoing efforts to combat these elements have not been and will not be, on balance, successful.

McTex,

Your comment seems detached from my post, and my ideas.

First of all, the most effective counterterrorism mechanism is and always has been intelligence and law enforcement.

If you notice, myriad plots have been thwarted by intel and law enforcement, and scores of terrorists rolled up by use of same. KSM, for example, was nabbed this way.

This degradation, proved by absence of successful attacks on the US post 9-11, up until the Ft. Hood incident, is a fact. This didn't just happen because Al Qaeda et al changed their minds.

Right. We have degraded AQ, and have massively beefed up our intel and law enforcement resources, attention and prioritization. AQ didn't changer their minds, we changed ours.

However, the wars we have fought in Iraq, Afghanistan and, via proxy, in Somalia have had mixed results at best.

Afghanistan, initially, was quite successful and necessary - as that is where al-Qaeda central was located and our invasion killed some, and chased others out.

Somalia on the other hand has been an own-goal, Iraq even moreso.

With respect to the latter two: al-Qaeda had absolutely zero presence in Iraq prior to the invasion, but afterward, that changed - as new franchises cropped up, and militants trained in Iraq and later went on to execute successful attacks around the globe.

This is not a question of "resistance" rather than "capitulation" this is just counterproductive policy that created a threat where none existed beforehand, while greatly draining resources and intell assets that could be used more effectively elsewhere - not to mention further tarnishing our image and inspiring radicalization. Full stop.

In Somalia, we erred big time by getting involved in a regional war that ended up making the terrorist threat worse. It was very misguided.

This is not a question of "resistance" rather than "capitulation" this is just counterproductive policy as set forth above.

While the temptation is to use broad terminology to encapsulate every policy loosely tied to the "War on Terror," we will actually be made safer if we pay attention to each and figure out which works and which doesn't.

This is common sense.

a recurring theme in left of center quarters was that these two failures depict how degraded Al Qaeda and others are, with the result that we should tone down our fear of future attacks, etc.

I think the specific claim was that al Qaeda's ability to launch attacks in the United States was degraded. Which has nothing to do with their presence in Somalia, or their recruiting power in the US for operations in Somalia.

a man who needed Ralph Nader and an unbelievably hackish Supreme Court decision to ascend to the throne

Or, more accurately, a man who needed 50,000 African-American voters bounced from the rolls and an unbelievably hackish Supreme Court decision to ascend to the throne.

But who's counting?

More to the point of the post, Obama has authorized expanded/new covert ops in 15 countries. Blowback will no doubt be forthcoming, but it will be that much harder to assign responsibility -- since we won't necessarily have much of an idea of what those operatives have done. The future's so bright I'm getting a migraine...

This degradation, proved by absence of successful attacks on the US post 9-11, up until the Ft. Hood incident, is a fact. This didn't just happen because Al Qaeda et al changed their minds.

It seems to me that you're taking a single incident (9/11) and making it into the status quo circa 2001. That is, it is not the case that AQ perpetrated a number of successful, highly-skilled attacks until their capacities were degraded by the War On Terra.
Nor do I think it useful to concentrate solely on attacks carried out within the US as opposed to those carried out against the US & its allies and intests regardless of location, but ymmv.

What you see as exclusively blow back is, more realistically, the product of an ongoing campaign, waged by both sides

This doesn't make sense to me. What Eric sees as blowback is the way we've effectively legitimized and radicalized the existing Islamic Somali 'government', not the 'degraded state of AQ' as you call it. A degraded AQ isn't blowback by any reasonable definition, that would hopefully be an intended result of our policies rather than an unintended negative consequence.

The War on Terror (tm) has had mixed results, some good, some bad. This post is about one of the bad ones. (See how easy that is?)

it is not the case that AQ perpetrated a number of successful, highly-skilled attacks until their capacities were degraded by the War On Terra.

Without wishing to weigh in on the point of the original post, I think that what you are saying is not the case, is the case.

WTC I, not successful in terms of actually knocking the towers down, but it made a dent.

The two embassy bombings in Africa, USS Cole.

They did some damage.

It was a good thing that those Central and South Americans pissed off at U.S. support for dictatorships and death squads didn't take to blowing up Americans inside the U.S. Our allies, of course, did so.

WTC I, not successful in terms of actually knocking the towers down, but it made a dent.
The two embassy bombings in Africa, USS Cole.
They did some damage.

I didnt say that AQ had never managed an attack in the US before, just that they didn't have a string of successes before Bush's War On Terra turned things around. It's one thing to do the correlation-is-causation dance, it's beyond that to call a trend of one event "correlation".

And McTex is pretty clearly limiting this to attacks *in* the US, which I think is a pointless distinction- but you'll have to bring that up with him. He says "on the US", but clearly can't be commenting on the situation with no awareness of attacks carried out against US persons and interests since 9/11...

CW has a point.

If we add in the terrorist attacks against US citizens and/or US interests outside of the US since 9/11, there are (according to the Bush and Obama administrations' respective counts) several hundreds.

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