On the 21st Anniversary of 9/11, America Remains as Deluded as Ever about Its Enemies

Sept. 12 2022

Yesterday, Americans commemorated the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington. In the years before those attacks, the U.S. took little note of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, or al-Qaeda’s murderous assaults on the USS Cole and on the American embassies in Tanzania and Nairobi. H.R. McMaster and Bradley Bowman argue that Washington remains in the grip of a “bipartisan habit of self-delusion” about the dangers of al-Qaeda, which has recently restored its base of operations in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan:

The Taliban gave al-Qaeda a safe haven to plan 9/11, and the two groups have remained attached at the hip ever since. Indeed, no less than a United Nations monitoring team reiterated in an April 2021 assessment that “the Taliban and al-Qaeda remain closely aligned and show no indication of breaking ties.” You know there is a problem when a UN entity has a clearer view of the United States’ enemies than the White House.

The Biden administration failed to learn from the last complete withdrawal: from Iraq in 2011 and the subsequent reemergence of al-Qaeda there, soon to morph into Islamic State. By the summer of 2014, Islamic State had gained control of territory in Iraq and adjoining Syria roughly the size of Britain and became one of the most destructive and powerful terrorist organizations in history. It turns out that threats don’t subside when one simply ignores realities on the ground, decides to stop fighting, and returns home. In fact, they usually get worse.

The United States and its partners in the region have now deprived Islamic State of its so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria because a small number of U.S. troops were kept there to support others bearing the brunt of the fighting. The Taliban-al-Qaeda terror syndicate now has an emirate because the United States failed to do the same in Afghanistan.

So why does this all matter today? If the United States fails to keep pressure on terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, it should expect more attacks on its homeland. But more than that, if Americans don’t demand an end to self-delusion in Washington regarding the nature and objectives of the country’s adversaries and what is necessary to secure its national interests, they should expect more self-defeat when confronting other adversaries—such as Beijing, Moscow, Pyongyang, and Tehran.

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Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, U.S. Foreign policy, War on Terror

 

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship