The Guardian reported on Sunday that “senior British officials believe that a ‘last push’ in 2012 is likely to definitively destroy al-Qaida’s remaining senior leadership in Pakistan.” The vicious drone war, wildly accelerated under Obama, has managed to kill a considerable number of al Qaeda members, despite killing and maiming many more civilians.
But don’t prepare you palms for applause just yet: the same report acknowledged that the Obama administration’s capacity to kill is not a winning strategy even if it has crippled terrorist operatives in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province.
However, well-informed sources outside government and close to Islamist groups in north Africa said at least two relatively senior al-Qaida figures have already made their way to Libya, with others intercepted en route, raising fears that north Africa could become a new “theatre of jihad” in coming months or years.
Libya isn’t the only suspected “new theater” mentioned in the piece: Somalia and Nigeria were also noted locales for al Qaeda.
This really shows the futility of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan-Pakistan. Extending the military occupation of Afghanistan and secret war in Pakistan (against the will of huge majorities in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and America) until we kill enough al Qaeda members does two things: (1) makes them leave Af-Pak, and (2) ensures that violent anti-American sentiment is constantly regenerated. By most accounts, the war has only exacerbated the terrorist threat facing America by fueling hatred and fundamentalism. When ninety-two percent of Afghans have never even heard of 9/11, the war is viewed as an unprovoked abuse. In fact, the war was intended to be directly against US interests. Al Qaeda planned to draw America into a long and costly war there while simultaneously provoking America to commit crimes that would predictably incite extremism and hatred against the U.S. far beyond the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. That seems to be exactly what has happened.
And now the Obama administration has expanded America’s secret wars to Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria, and beyond, apparently applying the same failed strategy in these “new theaters.”
For the record, I think the so-called terrorist threat is vastly inflated. The point is not that there is a worldwide Islamic jihad growing throughout the world. The point is that aggressive interventionist foreign policy will continue to create terrorists ready to attack America or Americans. What threat there is will dissipate if the motivation is taken away.