Have you guys heard the good news? The Global War on Terror (GWOT) is over! No this isn’t a matter of re-branding or any other clumsy game of semantics. This is the real thing. In an interview with The National Journal’s Michael Hirsh, the following statement was made:
“The war on terror is over,” one senior State Department official who works on Mideast issues told me. “Now that we have killed most of al Qaida, now that people have come to see legitimate means of expression, people who once might have gone into al Qaida see an opportunity for a legitimate Islamism.”
Uncork the champagne! Let’s have a parade!
What’s that you say? You’re worried about the aforementioned “legitimate Islamism“? Well, that may be a concern, but not to worry! The Islamists will simply elect a sharia-minded government, rather than merely overthrow the prior one. Nothing to see here, please continue shopping. Never mind Afghanistan. Or Iran. Or Syria. Or an al-Qaida affiliate in Somalia, responsible for recruiting Americans. Or al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
This said, allow me to give Obama’s clueless State Department official the benefit of the doubt: I think we’re winning. Whether it was the reliance on drones, killing Osama bin Laden, or, for that matter, targeting Anwar al-Awlaki (himself an American citizen), the president proved himself not the least bit shy when it comes to killing terrorists. My problem, despite “War on Terror” being a clumsy moniker, is the far worse crime of heady triumphalism coming from the attitude that “we’re winning, therefore we have won.” To call this attitude foolhardy is to be kind.
If anyone knows anything about how our enemy thinks, there still remains a mystique about the jihadist way of life. Some have to learn the hard way that it isn’t. In a 2009 interview with LA Times, a 25-year-old French citizen, Walid Othmani, a recruit of al-Qaida stated that:
”What you see in videos on the net, we realized that was a lie,” Othmani told police. “[Our chief] told us the videos . . . served to impress the enemy and incite people to come fight, and he knew this was a scam and propaganda.”
And you thought grunts in the U.S. Army were bitter. Feel free to read the whole ordeal here. The kind of despair and alienation Mr. Othmani and his fellow jihadists felt – whether it is in Paris or Cairo – is not going to disappear (and as they tend to discover, their disappointment is just beginning, when they get out to the Af-Pak). It is the ripe ground from which our enemies recruit and radicalize. We may get a chuckle out of Othmani’s irritation that life as a jihadist wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Still, shouldn’t we ask what his problem was, given that he most likely grew up in France and likely had a higher standard of living? Does it not stand to reason that he, like so many other generations of would-be-terrorists, was not wooed by life in a democratic French republic? Worse, when this younger generation comes into contact with the international pressures that do not accept the contradiction of ”legitimate Islamism” – in that sharia and democracy don’t really compliment each other – well, don’t say I didn’t warn you if the outcome is chaos and violence.
The War on Terror may being won, but it’s not over. There is never any “over” where the West is concerned. That Islamic terrorists will see anything outside their narrow worldview as heresy and will use violence to end that heresy, is not an earth-shattering revelation. The revelation will come when you thought all that was over.