September 08, 2011

How We Enabled Al Qaeda by Bruce Riedel

these epiphanous moments come ONLY after these CIA officials go into retirement (book-selling strategy perhaps?). While in employment, they STILL are (and the stink-tanks - George Petro's equating the perpetrator Paki deaths with victimized Indians killed in yesterday's post) in the services of ISI, the current spat notwithstanding!
Second, the title suggests that enabling Al Qaeda is a thing of the past. Nonsense! A more appropriate title would read "How we Continue to Enable Al Qaeda." (by shovelling alms and ammunation to the Pakistan Army, of course!).
America lost the "war on terror" within 48 hours of 9/11 when Bush/Armitage/Powell chummed up and partnered with Pakistan (I had proclaimed it then, and will contiue to say it time and again).
Reggie Sinha

Confessions of a CIA Officer!

Still not full insight, Mr. Riedel.


This was the war that should have ended years ago. The 9/11 attacks revealed a ruthless and agile enemy, one demanding unrelenting focus and smarts. Instead, we made major errors.
Some were tactical, such as the CIA failure to raise the alarm about the two operatives of Al Qaeda living in the U.S. before the attacks. For reasons still unclear, they avoided serious attention until airplanes crashed into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.
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Other mistakes were strategic. The biggest was to ignore Al Qaeda in Pakistan to invade Iraq, which, at that point, posed no serious threat. The Bush administration underestimated Osama bin Laden’s resilience, trusted the generals of Pakistan, and focused on the wrong battlefield. Bin Laden recognized our misstep early, and set a trap in Iraq, urging jihadists to travel to this latest front, even before the invasion. Trusting Pervez Musharraf, then Pakistan’s president, to fight on our side against bin Laden and the Taliban was another strategic failure. “Our man” in Islamabad turned out to be helping the Taliban regroup while bin Laden hid out in his front yard, living in plain sight of Pakistan’s most elite military academy for years. And when Musharraf faltered, we still tried to prop him up. Our desperate attempt to save Musharraf failed to keep the dictator in power, further alienated the Pakistani people, and, tragically, ended with Al Qaeda’s assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister and Pakistan’s best hope.
But Al Qaeda also made its share of mistakes. The terror group’s lack of a vision is an existential lapse. By offering only violence and death, it denies Muslims what they yearn for, such as democracy and a just peace settlement for the Palestinians. And by killing thousands of fellow Muslims and blowing up civilians in the streets and markets of Iraq, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, Al Qaeda has alienated its own constituents by drowning them in blood.
Robert Giroux / Getty Images
Now the death of bin Laden and the revolutions sweeping the Middle East provide the U.S. with an opportunity to right its wrongs. In countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, where brutal dictators have finally been toppled, we must help citizens build accountable governments, not new police states. Reducing debt burdens and trade barriers will help these emerging democracies achieve equal footing. Meanwhile, in places where people are still struggling against oppression (Yemen and Syria come to mind), we should help the opposition take power and restore law and order. Finally, we urgently need an American vision for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process—not just to veto Palestinian dreams. Otherwise we risk jihadists blowing up the Egyptian and Jordanian peace treaties with Israel. And another Arab-Israeli war would be the realization of the most fervent fantasy nurtured by Al Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Pakistan remains the epicenter of the global jihad. And while drones put pressure on militants, they also alienate civilians, creating the next generation of militants. Drones alone won’t win the war. What we have to do is assist those Pakistanis who are fighting and dying in this ongoing battle, people like Salman Taseer, the Punjab governor who courageously fought extremism before he was murdered earlier this year by his own bodyguard. On Aug. 26 his son was kidnapped. Our enemy is still formidable, and the task isn’t easy. But this time we have to get it right to avoid spending yet another decade fighting.

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Bruce Riedel, a former longtime CIA officer, is a senior fellow in the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution. At President Obama’s request, he chaired the strategic review of policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2009. He is author of the new book Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America and the Future of the Global Jihad and The Search for Al Qaeda: Its Leadership, Ideology and Future.
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