We have lots of gloom in the Western world, and lots of valid reasons for that gloom. Almost every major Western country, from Australia to Japan to the USA to the benighted European continent, has mediocre to genuinely awful leadership. The few bright spots, e.g., Canada, Israel, Estonia, Chile, Wisconsin, have not yet managed to generate the energy to hold back, much less reverse, the tide of mediocrity that threatens to drown us all in debt, political correctness, bureaucracy, and lawyers. We, however, have one possible glimmer of hope that is becoming brighter around the world: the defeat of Islamist terrorism. The last few years have not been good ones for the jihadis. We can and, in fact, are defeating them.
There has not been nor likely will be a surrender ceremony on a warship, in a rail car, or in a courthouse, but the great terrorist movements of the late 20th century and early 21st century are in disarray and crumbling. Dogged determination, lots of resources, guts, and intelligence (in both meanings of the word) have produced a remarkable result. On previous occasions, this humble blog has argued that we needed to inflict a series of defeats on the Islamists to drive home the message that they can bring only death, destruction, and hopelessness to their followers. All over the world, in fact, we now see the jihadis in retreat and staring at defeat. The nonsense about how they will replace every slain "martyr" with five, ten, twenty, thirty, etc., recruits has been shown to be, well, nonsense. As LTC Ralph Peters once wisely observed, "When you kill a terrorist, you do not make a martyr; you make a dead terrorist." Al Qaeda (AQ) and its once vaunted family of affiliates is a shell of its former self. No other organizations have sprung up with the global reach of the decaying AQ network.
The death knell for AQ rang in Iraq. Whatever the reasons were for the intervention, and despite the fashionable claim that Iraq was a distraction from the "real" war on terror, AQ died in Iraq. The leaders of AQ made the very unwise decision to go to war head-to-head with the United States military. Bad mistake. Iraq turned into Al Qaeda's Battle of Lepanto. They took on not only the most powerful military ever to exist, but also one that learns from its mistakes, adapts quickly, and seems to have an endless supply of ever-improving equipment and tactics, and of extremely competent and brave warriors. It was the US Army and the US Marines who chewed up AQ. They annihilated AQ's "foreign fighters" in the streets of Iraq, house by house, block by block. AQ never recovered from its direct challenge to the US military, anymore than did the Viet Cong 40 years before. About a year ago, the SEALS even put down AQ's "spiritual" leader and Grand Poohbah, the Viagra-ingesting, scrofulous degenerate Osama bin-Ladin. A steady succession of AQ "number 2s," and affiliate leaders in Yemen, Indonesia, Pakistan, and elsewhere have joined the old buzzard. Even in once hopeless Somalia the jihadis are on the run.
We have not done this alone, by any means. I hope one day Americans will learn about the invaluable assistance from our friends around the world, friends such as the British and the Canadians, both of whom have taken huge losses in the war, the Australians (for whom I have a special place in my heart), the Israelis, and others we do not normally associate with the war on terror, e.g., Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, Poland, Jordan, Germany, and, yes, France.
The victory is made all the more special by the fact that our current President never believed we could win, never supported the effort, and came into office pledging in essence to dismantle its machinery. He wanted civilian trials for the terrorists; promised to close Guantanamo, and demilitarize the effort. Even the term "war on terror" was banned in official publications. We have, however, in this case, the good fortune that President Obama is as cynical as they come. He realized that those pledges were electoral losers. He did not close Guantanamo, and, in fact, in his typically cynical "Chicago way" of politics decided to get around the legal issues and niceties of prisoners by not taking any. Incinerate do not incarcerate. As noted before, he decided to ramp up the drone war and to order death for terrorists, even those with US passports, at a rate that the left would never have tolerated with the evil Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld axis.
The war is not over. Terrorists remain out there, still plotting, and they most likely will have some isolated successes, probably against civilian targets. The big issue, however, has been decided. The West and its values cannot be defeated by the jihadis. Only we can do that to ourselves.