Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Again the question: Is Osama winning?

Yesterday I posted in synopsis Andrew Sullivan's Newsweek offering recommending that the US "took the bait," by entering into the costly wars that 9/11 attacks were meant to provoke.

Here Daveed Gartenstein-Ross extends this thesis in a concise, clearly written book delineating his thesis that "the terrorist network has defined its strategy as bleeding the United States to bankruptcy."

Amplify’d from www.foreignpolicy.com

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross's new book, Bin Laden's Legacy, wonders which side actually is winning the war on terror.

Bin Laden's Legacy is a remarkable and laudable work. Gartenstein-Ross has created both a road map and a score card for the 10 years since the 9/11 attacks redefined America's sense of security. In a narrative that somehow manages to be both concise and comprehensive, the author lays out the multiple battlefields and competing strategies of both al Qaeda and the United States.

The American approach, as Gartenstein-Ross describes in unrelenting detail, is defined by extravagance, putting its emphasis on security at all costs -- with cost being the operative word. Because of a combination of missteps, hypervigilance, and political fear, virtually any program, policy, or plan that offers a shred of reassurance to the American public can get funded in this environment, whether it's sci-fi technology for airports or an intelligence community so big that no one knows how many people it employs. This results in vast expenditures for security benefits that are sometimes marginal, sometimes nonexistent.

Al Qaeda's strategy, unhappily, is exactly the same: provoke the United States into profligate spending and interminable military engagements, with a vision of the country's eventual economic collapse. Inspired by Osama bin Laden's romanticized view of the Soviet Union's back-breaking war against the mujahideen in Afghanistan, the terrorist network has defined its strategy as bleeding the United States to bankruptcy. This strategy does not require traditional tactical success. In recent years, al Qaeda has learned that even its most embarrassing operational failures can produce an expensive response.

Read more at www.foreignpolicy.com

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