Most U.S. politicians have for so long shilled on behalf of Israel’s ahistorical and deceitful contention that a nation has a “right to exist” that it probably was inevitable they would come to believe the lie themselves. As noted here previously, every country has the right to defend itself according to its own best lights, but no country has a right to exist. Existence depends on national defense capabilities and a readiness to use war as a last resort to annihilate the few entities that pose life-and-death threats; a determination to avoid cultivating enemies at home and abroad; a prosperous economy that affords opportunities for all; and a cohesive social fabric that encourages free speech and welcomes an armed citizenry. Without these attributes a nation-state eventually goes up the spout, be it Israel or the United States.
As Ayman al-Zawahiri takes charge of al-Qaeda (AQ) he faces a situation more promising than any the group has encountered since its formation near the end of the Afghan-Soviet war. Of course having such an opportunity and exploiting it are two different things, but if al-Zawahiri controls his personal abrasiveness, limits his micro-managing tendencies, and works with his Shura Council to pick a talented deputy from al-Qaeda’s coming generation — best bets: Abu Yaha al-Libi and Naseer al-Wayhashi — the future for al-Qaeda, its allies, and those they inspire is bright. Here are some of the reasons for this conclusion.
Two simple truisms seem appropriate these days when discussing the Afghan war: “If you don’t understand your enemy, you will lose to him” and “If you do not kill your enemies, they will surely kill you.” U.S. political, military, and civil service leaders have neither tried to understand what motivates the Taliban and its allies nor have they tried to comprehensively kill them. As a result, they now stand at the inevitable destination — the brink of a vastly humiliating defeat that cannot be disguised.
In the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death, it is of first importance to confront the reality that al-Qaeda is an insurgent organization, not a terrorist group. This is not a mere semantic difference.