The image above is the cover story of the latest issue of the Economist. The topic is the resurgence of al-Qaeda and the call-it-anything-but-the-Global-War-on-Terror. A key passage from the leader:
How much should Western complacency be blamed for this stunning revival? Quite a bit. Mr Obama was too eager to cut and run from Iraq. He is at risk of repeating the mistake in Afghanistan. America has been over-reliant on drone strikes to “decapitate” al-Qaeda groups: the previous defence secretary, Leon Panetta, even foolishly talked of defeating the network by killing just 10-20 leaders in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The general perception of America’s waning appetite for engagement in the Middle East, underlined by Mr Obama’s reluctance to support the moderate Syrian opposition in any useful way has been damaging as well.A second question is how much of a threat a resurgent al-Qaeda now poses to the West. The recently popular notion that, give or take the odd home-grown “lone wolf”, today’s violent jihadists are really interested only in fighting local battles now looks mistaken. Some of the foreign fighters in Syria will be killed. Others will be happy to return to a quieter life in Europe or America. But a significant proportion will take their training, experience and contacts home, keen to use all three when the call comes, as it surely will. There is little doubt too that Westerners working or living in regions where jihadism is strong will be doing so at greater risk than ever.
The Economist catches on to a point we’ve been making here. Obama administration policies to contain terror have failed, and the bad guys are on the march. We can’t know for sure, but attacks like the ones in Mumbai and in Kenya could set a pattern for attacks in Europe and the US.We in the West really, really don’t want this war, with all the violence, intelligence gathering, and the rest that it entails. And we don’t want to face up to the ugly truth that this appalling and perplexing struggle could be with us for a long time to come. But the world doesn’t give you what you want all the time.