OK, as from my other posts I do not pretend to be an expert just a guy who looks at things and form opinions based on what I see. Some of it may be skewed by the sources of information but I like to take in a good variety of this of stuff and form my opinions. Most of my research comes from hearing people say things in conversation and this runs the gambit of my acquaintances that are everything from full blown liberal communists to right wing Christian conservative hawks. They say stuff and I weigh it. If I find flaws or things I disagree with then I do some research and read the stuff both sides are saying. From there I form an opinion or hypothesis.
The war on terror has been a big subject since the attacks. Let’s focus on the combat actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. I was a big supporter of the war at first based on the information my government was giving me about the instability of Saddam Hussein and his development of WMD. Needless to say I was a bit disappointed when nothing showed up. The kooks went right to conspiracy mode and said it was all a ploy just to start a war so younger bush could fulfill his father’s legacy of finishing the job. I don’t buy that. I have always viewed the U.S. as clumsy giant that does things for what it believes is the right reason and screws it up a lot. I see very little malice just bad decisions based on bad information or emotions. Call me simplistic but that is what I see.
I never believed Iraq it was going to be a quick deal. The combat military operation to take ground was going to be swift and very successful but the occupation had a 10 year life span in my mind. So from that perspective things have gone well in Iraq so far. There were massive mistakes and the correction of them took a lot longer than they should have but when was last time we took over a country and rebuilt it from scratch. (Japan and Germany come close but they had a government we kind of left in place, in the end they seem to have turned out OK). I do view one part of the Iraq operation a massive success and our leaders never stated it pre or post invasion. Al-Qaeda (AQ) and other Muslim extremists flooded into Iraq and engaged us. I got so mad when people pointed this out as a problem or bad thing. From my perspective AQ started the war by attacking civilians on US soil. They then were forced to move their operation to attacking US Infantry on foreign soil. Isn’t this what we want to happen, doesn’t it make good tactical and strategic sense? I would rather have them targeting a fully trained and armed US combat trooper than my Grandma on a subway. Dragging AQ into open combat somewhere was critical to keeping them from attacking US civilians. Anyone who doesn’t believe that is idiot in my book. Proof of effectiveness comes from the fact that they have not been able to launch any kind of meaningful attack on Western countries since 9/11. They are fighting this war on our terms and to be honest they suck at it.
It seems fairly clear to me that we are kicking the crap out of AQ, so much so that they are withdrawing from Iraq. We haven’t killed all of them but they are giving up the fight and going somewhere else. We have adapted tactics and equipment to deal with the environment and have made it very difficult to for them to cause mayhem on a large scale. The Iraqi populace is also seeing the light of day. Travel is much safer and the economy is starting to pick up and by most accounts Iraqi civilians are starting to feel hopeful. I think AQ is in the process of a general withdrawal from Iraq, it has become their Vietnam. I believe their fallback position is Afghanistan, this is evident by the increased military activity and there. I believe they are setting up an ambush for us in Afghanistan. They cannot beat us in open or urban combat. We just keep getting better at it and there are only so many psychos who want to die for their cause. If they can slow down our effectiveness and get back to killing more soldiers in every attack they can again get the American populace into second thought mode.
The only way AQ can beat us is with impatience. Keep nibbling away at our resolve until we give up and go home. Their best chance of doing that is a protracted campaign in the mountains of Afghanistan like they did to the Russians. Us putting more boots on the ground and going out looking for them is a bad idea. It is up to the generals on how to best keep them under wraps but from my perspective we should secure the population centers and launch an intelligence and special operations campaign against them. Keep them on the run and unable to launch terror attacks against civilians. They will never go away for good but they can be kept very busy while we sit on what believe to be their soil. I think in the end what will cause them to get back to 9/11 capabilities is us going back to xenophobe mode and them finding a stronghold like Afghanistan again. We can’t let this happen and the surest way for it to happen is a bad economy. We will get too involved with our internal problems and the beast will grow again.