comments_image Comments

Are We Going to Become Allies With Al Qaeda? When the War on Terror Gets Confusing

How do I get ready to protect our national security by allying with the world’s most evil evildoers?

Continued from previous page


So here’s the “firm information” our spies have gathered: Secret “indications” that the Syrian government “may” be preparing for “possible” use of chemical weapons. They can’t give us any real evidence. But this is about as close to absolute proof as we’ll ever get.

At least it’s good enough for President Obama, who publicly warned Assad not to use those chemical weapons. He was really strident about it. In fact (again quoting McClatchy) the warning “was his most strident since he drew a ‘red line’ in August that the movement of chemical or biological weapons out of their secure sites, or their use, would bring U.S. military intervention in the country’s vicious civil war.”

So the Syrians don’t actually have to use chemical weapons, I thought. They just have to move them, and bingo! Our boys will have their boots on the ground in the Middle East again. Nobody’s ever going to call this president weak on national security.

But suddenly a light went on inside my brain and I saw the dots connected in a brand-new pattern, much more terrifying than ever before. There was Al Qaeda’s terror arc, sweeping right through Syria. There were U.S. troops fighting in Syria to protect our national security. And -- uh oh! -- our boys and AQ were fighting alongside each other, against the same enemy, Bashar Assad.

Wouldn’t that make us -- are you ready for this? -- allies with Al Qaeda? The president of the United States is telling us this is a real possibility, and we’d better get ready for it.

But how do I get ready to protect our national security by allying with the world’s most evil evildoers? If the Al Qaeda fighters become our friends, am I still supposed to be terrified of them? Or do they lose their “evildoer” label? In fact, since we’re always the good guys fighting against the bad guys, aren’t our allies automatically good guys, too? Then Al Qaeda would become not just our friends, but good guys too, right?

Hey, that can’t be. Or can it?

By now I had something brand-new to worry about: I was afraid my head would explode. So I ran to my wife, explained it all to her, and asked with a quavering voice: “Who are we supposed to be afraid of now?”

“Everyone!” she answered, without hesitating. (This is a true story.) Oh, I feel so much better. My wife is always right.

Ira Chernus is a professor of religious studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder and author of “MythicAmerica: Essays.” He blogs at

See more stories tagged with: