The United States is winning the Long War against al-Qaeda. Despite hair on fire headlines, heated presidential political rhetoric, and conventional wisdom that so often points to the contrary, a simple look at the evidence shows that the war against terrorism is actually going better than the chicken-littles would have us all believe. Between 1998 and 2001, a three year period, the US suffered three major terrorist attacks. One against the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, one against the USS Cole warship, and the 9/11 attacks against the World Trade Center Towers and the Pentagon. In the six and half years since 9/11, there have been none.
An article in the Financial Times lays out the evidence for the success of the war. First is the lack of successful attacks on the West. Second is that, after the losses of many key leaders in the past few months, the organization as a whole is declining. Adding to the decline is a growing ideological debate amongst Islamists which questions the justification for violence; they are beginning to question their own legitimacy. According to a poll by Terror Free Tomorrow, as described in the article, “fewer than one in 10 Saudis had a favorable opinion of al-Qaeda.”
All that is left is to win the Long War –continue fighting al-Qaeda–hit them from all sides. We cannot separate the war in Iraq from the war in Afghanistan from the fight for control of the tribal areas of Pakistan. They are all intimately linked, as they all contain terrorists from the same organization. As described in a Heritage Foundation paper on the subject, fighting al-Qaeda in all these locations is essential, and will lead to the continued breakdown of the organization as a whole.