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Is Obama winning war on Al Qaeda that Bush lost?

Wreckage at Ground Zero in New York after 9:11 terror attacks

All of a sudden, it seems like we're getting smarter at combating the terrorists who have plagued U.S. policy and politics since the 9/11 attacks that killed more than 3,000 Americans.

The Pentagon's new budget, released Monday, calls for more elite Special Ops troops, more aerial drones and more financial aide to Yemen, home of the Al Qaeda branch that sponsored the failed Christmas Day bomber. Sending small teams of Army commandos, Navy Seals and CIA operatives to target specific insurgents is the mantra of Gen. David Petraeus: "You've got to kill or capture those bad guys that are not reconcilable."

As Special Ops hunt down the bad guys, thousands of U.S. troops newly arrived in Afghanistan are being trained to win public support by showcasing good government, economic growth and security. According to the Wall Street Journal, Gen. Stanley McChrystal told his staff in Kabul "It's not the number of people you kill -- it's the number of people you convince." 

The White House even proposed a $5-billion increase in the State Department's 2011 budget -- which almost never happens -- most of which is intended for programs in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. Those three countries also got the chunk of this year's $4.5 billion in new funds.

There are some signs that the West may even be winning the toughest battle of all -- the fight for public opinion on the Muslim street.

In December, a team of scholars at the the Center for Combating Terrorism at West Point Military released a study -- based on Arabic media reports --- documenting all the deaths from terrorists incidents where Al Qaeda took credit. The news: Muslims are much more likely to be killed in an Al Qaeda attack than Westerners. From 2004 to 2008, the study says, only 15% of victims were Westerners.

Now, the report is circulating on websites in Arab countries. A Kuwaiti newspaper published the findings. And President Obama,  in an interview with YouTube, said yesterday that "Al Qaeda is probably the biggest killer of innocent Muslims of any entity out there." 

Could the tide be turning?

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: Wreckage at Ground Zero after 9/11 terror attack. Credit: Reuters

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Comments () | Archives (6)

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thats doesn't prove anything at all.

to keep spending my money on a Gerra's ridiculous, it would be better in that case, spend or invest that money in nutrition, education, or something much more productive rather than maintaining the idea of a bunch of people killed by an endless struggle.

Is this a joke, or are you just a shill for Obama? Wait, I know it's both.

The premise of this article is absurd on it's face. Bush didn't lose the war on terror by a long shot. I'd like to see you even make the case for your title, the fact is you cannot.

And no one has ever suggested that he did lose the war on AQ. What liberals did suggest is that in the effort to keep us safe for the 7+ years following 9/11, Bush trampled our civil rights and the due process rights of terrorists. We can go back and forth and argue over whether our civil or the terrorists due process rights really matter all that much, but the debate has never been about whether Bush won or lost. The proof is in the pudding, and the fact is that we haven't had to live with the threat of daily terror attacks over our heads, to the point where people even question whether it's still a threat.

And it is on that premise where your article falls flat. This administration made the boneheaded move to not even call it a war, if that's not losing then I don't know what is. Add on to that Holder's CIA investigation, trying 9/11 terrorists in NYC (since slowly backed away from), giving enemy combatants criminal legal rights, taking 9 months to act decisively in Afghanistan, setting timetables, etc etc so on and so forth and you have not only killed any semblance of morale within the various institutions that protect us, but you've given the keys to the kingdom to the likes of Osama Bin Laden himself.

As Barney Frank likes to say, on what planet do you spend most of your time?

George W. Bush had more than just one war running. There was the War that Bush invented in Iraq by occupying a sovereign territory using fabricated intelligence to attempt to justify his decision to invade. There was also the carefully choreographed war in Afghanistan where Bush held our troops back in order to let Osama Bin Laden find safe passage out of harm's way.

I do remember hearing in a national speech by Bush after 9-11 that it would be a very prolonged, very difficult,and a very bloody campaign to hunt down the terrorists.
Maybe we would have been in better shape if Pelosi and Reid had not been running the senate/congress for 3 years now(3 of the famous last 8 years),That's almost the exact time it turned sour, Hmmm.................

The ideological front is the main battlefield for an insurgency. During an American administration that was dangerously ignorant of this maxim, Al Qaeda surged in strength and was classified "as strong as ever" by the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate in 2007. Only Al Qaeda's obsession over shifting blame to America for the 9/11 War spared the homeland from further attacks by the terrorist syndicate during the Bush administration. The Obama administration's attention to his predecessor's greatest blunder has helped inaugurate a new era when the global community increasingly views Al Qaeda as the chief culprit behind the 9/11 War. Its high command has validated this contention with its desperate resumption of attacks inside the United States soon after Obama's assumption of office.

Ultimately, America's effort to end Bin Laden's war aims to convince the Muslim world that he is the greatest threat to Islam. This global endeavor can perhaps best be pursued through an information operation revealing indisputable evidence that Bin laden is trying to kill billions of people. The nonprofit public awareness campaign at provides a suitable launchpad for this enterprise.

The key to American victory exists in public disclosure of the fact that Bin Laden's inner circle is an apocalyptic cult seeking to ignite a global nuclear war. As if learning about an incoming planet-busting meteor, repentant Al Qaeda supporters would unite with the world community to mobilize the critical intelligence and local militias necessary for dismantling the network. Facing a common threat that demanded our collective attention, an enlightened humanity could choose to end Bin Laden's war and commit to sustainable conflict reconciliation.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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