A Further Perspective

The War on Terror Isn’t Over

Does our president think the Taliban wouldn't give safe harbor to al Qaeda if again given the opportunity?

By 5.1.12

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It has been said that in pursuit of re-election President Obama he cannot run on his record. After all, the stimulus bill did not stimulate the economy. The country has nearly accumulated more debt under this President than the 43 men who preceded him. Obamacare may very well be deemed unconstitutional next month and even if it isn't, it is still very unpopular with a critical mass of the American electorate.

President Obama does, however, have one thing to which he can point and has already begun to do so - the killing of Osama bin Laden. One year has now passed since founder of al Qaeda met his maker. Yes, Team 6 did the heavy lifting but it was President Obama who gave the order.

The day before word got out that bin Laden had been killed, I was at Ground Zero with my father lamenting the horror of what had happened nearly a decade earlier and how it changed the way I view the world and the nature of man.

A little over 36 hours later, Ground Zero was full of people grateful to our military heroes for giving bin Laden his day of reckoning. I must admit that at the time I thought President Obama's re-election was all but a lock. In response to a post by Jim Antle, I wrote:

Jim is right to say this doesn't guarantee Obama's re-election. After all, the election is still 18 months away and anything could happen. But barring a catastrophe it becomes increasingly difficult to see how Obama can lose. And by catastrophe I am talking about an even bigger financial meltdown than the one experienced in 2008. If there was another terrorist attack in this country on the scale of 9/11 or greater in retaliation for bin Laden's killing I believe the nation would rally around Obama (unless he were to handle it abysmally). The electorate is more likely to turn on Obama over our pocketbooks rather than over our security.

But if a week in politics is a lifetime, then being just over six months away from Election Day is an eternity. Team Obama isn't taking any chances. An Obama campaign ad released last week featuring former President Bill Clinton implies that Mitt Romney would not have made the decision to kill bin Laden. These sentiments have been echoed in a speech by Vice President Biden last Thursday and in remarks by former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Meet the Press last Sunday. This narrative will only continue in intensity over the next half year.

Yet it is the very same Obama Administration that is engaged in negotiations with the Taliban in Afghanistan, an entity that was more than content to harbor al Qaeda. Is there any reason to believe the Taliban wouldn't be happy to continue harboring al Qaeda or any other organization that seeks to do harm to the United States? Yet what you can expect of an administration that also takes the position that the War on Terror is over? According to an unnamed State Department official:

The war on terror is over. Now that we have killed most of al Qaida, now that people have come to see legitimate means of expression, people who once might have gone into al Qaida see an opportunity for a legitimate Islamism.

As Tom Blumer of Newsbusters so poignantly asks:

If it's so over, then why were government officials referenced in Kimberly Dozier's Associated Press report this evening about the state of Al Qaida a year after Osama Bin Laden's death "on condition of anonymity because they say publicly identifying themselves could make them a target of the terrorist group"?

Here is how I put it in my initial commentary following bin Laden's death:

Under the circumstances, bin Laden's death helps to fill that void and does bring some measure of comfort. However, I am also under no illusions that our fight against Islamic fundamentalism is over. Far from it.

With this in mind, I found little reassurance in President Obama's statement. Once again he insisted "the United States is not -- and never will be -- at war with Islam." Such a sentiment utterly misses the point because a not so insignificant segment of the Muslim world is at war with us and Obama does us a disservice to pretend otherwise. Indeed, bin Laden is now a martyr to his followers and they will have a greater resolve to see to it that bin Laden's 1998 fatwa declaring war against the United States is implemented. Under that fatwa it is the duty of all Muslims to kill Americans be they military personnel or civilians.

So let us not forget that Nidal Malik Hasan shouted "Allahu Akbar" as he gunned down thirteen U.S. soldiers at Fort Hood. Let us also not forget that if not for a vigilant citizenry more innocent civilians could have died on American soil at the hands of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (a.k.a. The Underwear Bomber) aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day, 2009, and Faisal Shahzad in Times Square exactly two years ago. All three men were inspired by American born Anwar al-Awlaki who was killed by a U.S. drone in Yemen last September. Both bin Laden and al-Awlaki might be dead but the Obama Administration should not delude itself into thinking that there aren't others ready to take their place.

I am well aware that we are a country weary from more than a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the uncomfortable truth is that there are still jihadists who wish to kill Americans here and abroad and have the means to carry out their evil intentions. We are only a box cutter away from a painful reminder that the War on Terror isn't over.

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About the Author
Aaron Goldstein writes from Boston, Massachusetts.