‘Experts’ Argue Over Al-Qaeda Strength as US Militarism Inspires More Hatred

Al-Qaeda may be dead or stronger than ever, but US aggression has definitely created more enemies

As so-called “experts” argue over whether al-Qaeda is strong or ailing one year after the assassination of leader Osama bin Laden, the grievances which impel Muslims to militancy against America have only piled up.

Many observers point out that the enormous swelling of defense budgets and the ballooning of a predatory national security state at home and abroad is way out of proportion to the actual threat any Americans face of Islamic terrorism. After a decade of war, they say, al-Qaeda is weakened and unable to orchestrate significant or even minor attacks on U.S. soil.

Other “experts” less uncomfortable with the destruction that warfare and civil liberties abuses have wrought, disagree about the capabilities of al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

“It’s wishful thinking to say al-Qaida is on the brink of defeat,” says Seth Jones, a Rand analyst and adviser to U.S. special operations forces. “They have increased global presence, the number of attacks by affiliates has risen, and in some places like Yemen, they’ve expanded control of territory.”

While the U.S. may or may not have crippled al-Qaeda, America’s rampant, lawless militarism and expansion of the empire all over the Middle East continues to inspire hatred and, as was evident on September 11th, violence.

“U.S. officials say bin Laden’s old team is all but dismantled, “writes the Associated Press. “But they say new branches are hitting Western targets and U.S. allies overseas, and still aspire to match their parent organization’s milestone of Sept. 11, 2001.”

Bin Laden inspired Muslims to attack America primarily by emphasizing American militarism and empire in the Middle East. More of that in the post-9/11 era may well have broadened the appeal.

The 2006 National Intelligence Estimate on Trends in Global Terrorism found the Iraq war was “breeding deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.” Similarly, former head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center Robert Grenier said the war “has convinced many Muslims that the United States is the enemy of Islam and is attacking Muslims, and they have become jihadists as a result of their experience in Iraq.”

The war in Afghanistan, which has terrorized the country and caused immense suffering has had a similar effect. And both former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair recognized that “hatred of America is increasing in Pakistan” because of the drone strikes, which kill exorbitant numbers of civilians.

By most accounts, the drone war in Yemen is worsening the problem in the form of blowback. Gregory Johnsen, a Yemen expert at Princeton University, recently wrote, “Body bags are not a good barometer for success in a war like this. I would argue that U.S. missile strike[s] are actually one of the major — not the only, but a major — factor in AQAP’s growing strength.”

Jeremy Scahill, reporting for Nation, exposed in February how U.S. airstrikes that kill civilians and those ill-defined as militants – along with support for the brutal Yemeni government  – foments anti-Americanism and fuels international terrorism. And Charles Schmitz, a Yemen expert at Towson University in Maryland, tells told the Los Angeles Times, “The more the U.S. applies its current policy, the stronger Al Qaeda seems to get.”

The situation begets losers. Washington gets to simultaneously claim its aggressive policies are effective and that more are needed. Americans thus suffer a loss of civil liberties and transparency in an ever-expanding government, while also suffering a loss in security because of the hatred their government’s unaccountable militarism inspires.

Last 5 posts by John Glaser

Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for Antiwar.com.

  • the Lion

    As far as the US generals are concerned this is a brilliant strategy no Americans dead and a continuing sale of hellfire missiles by the Military industrial complex and if there is blowback of another terror strike against the US well the old story of they hate our way of life will resurface and a doubling or tripling of the actions will take place!

    Just imagine if another country was to do it to America it would really hit the fan wouldnt it!

  • Chad Hale

    While the U.S. may or may not have crippled al-Qaeda, America’s rampant, lawless militarism and expansion of the empire all over the Middle East continues to inspire hatred and, as was evident on September 11th, violence.

    What is "evident" is that 9/11 was an inside operation, perpetrated by individuals at the highest levels of the US government and military! David Ray Griffin has written 10 books, and Steven E Jones (along with Neils Harrit) have discovered evidence of EXPLOSIVES in the dust of ALL THREE World Trade Center dust samples. Wake up to that, and the rest gets a little clearer.

  • Walter Cole

    If the US conspiracy theory about 9-11 were true, that al-Qaeda´s men, under the leadership of Osama bin Laden, travelled to America to commit crimes of terrorism, then their leader Osama Bin Laden died a true victor. From the mountains of Afghanistan he has, almost single handedly, taken down the American empire. Did he plan this all? He had to have been the most brilliant military strategist in history! Armed with explosives and hand guns, he successfully attacked America´s largest city and capital (military headquarters), and then drew the American military into his territory to show the world once again how weak America really is. He frustrated his enemy with such cunning that they paid any price, even adapting the tools of the devil, in order to respond to his military brilliance. He pushed them until his enemy´s leaders became paranoid, seeing Muslim terrorist behind every tree in America, thereby taking away more and more of the rights of the American people to the point of creating a police state. He got his enemy to commit war crimes only to become more and more hated and despised by the rest of the world, not to mention Superman renouncing his citizenship. Some give the excuse that America did it to itself, but its leaders know the truth – Al Qaeda did it all, right from the start.

    What a guy that bin Laden fellow must have been! When is someone going to write a book about the bearded guy who took on and defeated the American empire with so little effort and no resources, operating out of caves on the other side of the world? He must be given credit for having taken on the giant of all giants, and its allies, armed with supersonic planes, drone technology, helicopters, the largest Navy fleet in the world, spending trillions of dollars, etc. Remember, it is the US government who insists that Asama was responsible for it all! Everything that has been happening to America over the past decade was directly or indirectly a consequence of Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. Never in the history of the world have one man and his small band of men been so successful at defeating an enemy many thousands of time larger and stronger.

    • MvGuy

      A company man…………………….

    • masmanz

      Not even explosives and handguns — just box cutters. But, realistically speaking, most of Osama's work was done by Bush. And, now, Obama is continuing with the project — perpetual war for perpetual peace.

  • Nathan

    Articles like these are written for the consumption of the general American audience who has no clue whatsoever on such issues. However, the smart Americans, about 10% at the most, do not buy such rubbish.

    The Al-Qaeda of Osama Bin Laden was initially created by our CIA in Afghanistan to drive Russia out of that country. Al-Qaeda is still working with the CIA in Syria.

    Add to that the fact that Muslims may have had nothing to do with 9/11. There is, however, a large portion of the Muslim population that dislikes the US for its attacking and terrorizing their nations.

    How many times within the past 10 years have we heard that Muslims have blown up things in the US or NATO countries. You would think as bad as they have been demonized; they should blow up a thing or two every week.

    That is why articles such as above fodder for general consumption.

  • W_ThePoster

    But it's okay because (sarcasm alert!) we all know that people in the Middle East don't hold grudges all that long.

  • John Ellis

    Honor among thieves — Share the plunder fair and square

    Now if were going to continue being an Empire, by brutal imperialism continue to plunder oil rich and sweatshop labor nations, then I defy anyone to come up with a better scheme for handling all the vengeance blowback then our War On Terrorism.

    So, when we trade war materials for Middle-East oil, after we factor in the overhead including the yearly billions sent to Israel and Egypt, what is our true profit and how does it trickle down and recycle in to the economy?