Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Bin Laden's Legacy: Why We're Still Losing the War on Terror

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Bin Laden's Legacy: Why We're Still Losing the War on Terror

Article excerpt

Bin Laden's Legacy: Why We're Still Losing the War on Terror. By Daveed Gartenstein-Ross. Hobokcn, N.J.: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2012. 266 pp. $25.95.

On the demise of Osama bin Laden, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has announced that victory over al-Qaeda is now within reach. But Gartenstein-Ross of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies argues that the U.S. government is in a far weaker position relative to alQaeda now than prior to 9/1 1 due to its failure to grasp al-Qaeda's grand strategy.

One of the foundational beliefs of al-Qaeda is that the cost of prosecuting the Soviet- Afghan war contributed to the collapse of the Soviet economy. Gartenstein-Ross contends that alQaeda's current strategy toward the United States is of a piece with that approach: Escalating the conflict with the United States in as many arenas as possible will drive up the costs of defense measures, bleeding the U.S. economy.

Gartenstein-Ross finds that U.S. policymakers have not adapted well to al-Qaeda's strategy. Duplication of efforts and the politicization of the issue have both driven up budgets and soured the citizenry on the task at hand. By broadening the focus on the war on terrorism through the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration diverted critical resources from Afghanistan, allowing the Taliban and al-Qaeda to rebuild their organizations, and simultaneously presented Islamists with a stage from which they could mobilize Muslims around the world for a "defensive" jihad. …

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