Quote of the Day: Peter Bergen

Guest-posting on The WashingtonNote:

Having established that we are indeed at war with al Qaeda, the real question, as Clausewitz would suggest, is what kind of war are we engaged in? And that is where the Bush administration has made a number of errors, the deepest of which is to argue that the war against al Qaeda is similar to the wars against communism and fascism.

This is nonsense, of course, as the al Qaeda threat is orders of magnitude smaller than Mutually Assured Destruction or the triumph of Nazism in Europe…

The second mistake the Bush administration made was to conflate all sorts of organizations and movements from Hezbollah, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda into a global enemy thereby falling into bin Laden’s rhetorical trap that there really is a global jihadist movement arraigned against us rather than disparate groups of Islamists, some violent, others not, with their own local agendas who often despise each other intensely.

The third mistake was to say that you are “either with us or against us.” A much smarter approach would have been to say is that “if you are not with them you are with us.”

Bergen also notes that defeating terrorism means reducing it to a second order threat.  Nice formulation.  .


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