After Seventeen Years, Is an End to the War on Terror in Sight?

Sept. 12 2018

Yesterday was the seventeenth anniversary of al-Qaeda’s bloody attacks on New York and Washington. Clifford May uses the occasion to reflect on the state of America’s long war on jihadism:

A grand illusion to which Americans and Europeans are susceptible [is that] war is an aberration, and peace is the normal state of the world, a condition to which all peoples aspire. Even a cursory reading of history shows this to be wishful thinking. . . . The grim reality is that after seventeen years of conflict, we have not decisively defeated al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Far from it: al-Qaeda franchises proliferate and, according to Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, “the Taliban’s men contest or control approximately 60 percent of [Afghanistan]—as much ground as at any point since the U.S.-led invasion in late 2001.” . . .

[Meanwhile], the Islamic Republic of Iran’s long-term goal remains, as it has for nearly 40 years, “Death to America!” Its supreme leader now projects power into Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Gaza, and Iraq. He aids those fighting Americans in Afghanistan. He sponsors terrorists with impunity. . . .
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[O]ur enemies do not appear exhausted, discouraged, or underfunded. Do we know them yet, or are we still trying to imagine what “drives” people to “violent extremism?” Do we have the stomach to endure the long war—which, I believe, should be recognized as a multi-front struggle against jihadism? Do we have the patience to develop a winning strategy even if that requires—as it clearly does—much trial and too many errors?

In the days after the 2001 attacks, it was said that a sleeping giant had been awakened. Today, there are many on both the left and the right telling the giant to go back to bed and pull the covers over his eyes. If that’s where our enemies find us, they’ll know what to do.

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More about: Al Qaeda, Iran, ISIS, Jihadism, Politics & Current Affairs, Taliban, U.S. Foreign policy

The Reasons for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Staying Power

Nov. 20 2018

This week, Benjamin Netanyahu seems to have narrowly avoided the collapse of his governing coalition despite the fact that one party, Yisrael Beiteinu, withdrew and another, the Jewish Home, threatened to follow suit. Moreover, he kept the latter from defecting without conceding its leader’s demand to be appointed minister of defense. Even if the government were to collapse, resulting in early elections, Netanyahu would almost certainly win, writes Elliot Jager:

[Netanyahu’s] detractors think him Machiavellian, duplicitous, and smug—willing to do anything to stay in power. His supporters would not automatically disagree. Over 60 percent of Israelis tell pollsters that they will be voting for a party other than Likud—some supposing their favored party will join a Netanyahu-led coalition while others hoping against the odds that Likud can be ousted.

Opponents would [also] like to think the prime minister’s core voters are by definition illiberal, hawkish, and religiously inclined. However, the 30 percent of voters who plan to vote Likud reflect a broad segment of the population. . . .

Journalists who have observed Netanyahu over the years admire his fitness for office even if they disagree with his actions. A strategic thinker, Netanyahu’s scope of knowledge is both broad and deep. He is a voracious reader and a quick study. . . . Foreign leaders may not like what he says but cannot deny that he speaks with panache and authority. . . .

The prime minister or those around him are under multiple police investigations for possible fraud and moral turpitude. Under Israel’s system, the police investigate and can recommend that the attorney general issue an indictment. . . . Separately, Mrs. Netanyahu is in court for allegedly using public monies to pay for restaurant meals. . . . The veteran Jerusalem Post political reporter Gil Hoffman maintains that Israelis do not mind if Netanyahu appears a tad corrupt because they admire a politician who is nobody’s fool. Better to have a political figure who cannot be taken advantage of than one who is incorruptible but naïve.

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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel & Zionism, Israeli politics