Did Osama Bin Laden Win the "War on Terror"?
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Since its founding, al Qaeda has had two big, fat targets aside from the United States: the Saudi and Egyptian governments. Ten years after 9/11, the regime of Hosni Mubarak is gone, and last week, the Wall Street Journal reported ( $$) that Israeli officials were “urging Washington to make it clear that the U.S. would intervene in Saudi Arabia should the survival of that government be threatened.” It would be a mistake to link the so-called “Arab Spring” directly to the decline of American influence in the Middle East, but it would be equally shortsighted to dismiss it as a contributing factor.
Perhaps this argument gives bin Laden too much credit. But terrorism is ultimately a tactic used by marginal extremist groups against far more powerful enemies. Bin Laden couldn't have known that we'd invade Iraq, but the idea that the United States under George W. Bush would react to acts of terror with acts of war against at least Afghanistan was not terribly difficult to predict. And the ruinous results of that reaction are apparent. We're still around, and it's likely that we have now killed or captured every single human being who was operationally involved in the attacks of 9/11, so perhaps it was a draw. But a superpower spending trillions to fight a handful of terrorists to a draw may have been the best outcome for which bin Laden realistically could have hoped.
This is important to understand for one reason. As Daveed Gartenstein-Ross noted, “bin Laden's strategic ideas for beating a superpower... have permeated his organization, and are widely shared by al Qaeda's affiliates.” Osama bin Laden may be dead, but his ideology remains, and we continue to hemorrhage blood and treasure in a futile conflict into which the “terror mastermind” may well have drawn us. It's time that we stop doing what international terrorists want us to do.
Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet. He is the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy (and Everything else the Right Doesn't Want You to Know About Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America) . Drop him an email or follow him on Twitter .