The official social platform for ConsimWorld
Today, Anwar al-Awlaki met his end, thanks to a well-directed Hellfire missile fired from a CIA drone in Yemen. I'm sure his parents will miss him, but probably not very many outside of the ever-dwindling terrorist community. This follows the termination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan this May.
By chance, on Wednesday I was teaching my undergraduate American Foreign Policy class at La Roche College, when a student asked me a very good question: When do you think that the Global War on Terror is going to end? Even a day before al-Awlaki's death, I had to answer that it very well could be in the process of winding down now. Not to be too overconfident of either the outcome or the pace of the conflict's resolution, but I believe that when history looks back, say fifty or a hundred years from now, it will be apparent that the tide was already turning as early as 2009.
But 2010 and 2011 things were not going well for al Qaeda. The London terrorist attacks of 2005 were fading in the past, and in fact the movement had made a major, successful attack on the West in years. Lone wolves were a problem, as in the Fort Hood atrocity, but organized, prepared, group attacks far less so. Then came a series of major losses, with bin Laden and al-Awlaki at the top of the list.
Another blow came from within the Arab world itself, with the revolutions of the last year. The successful ones in Egypt, Tunisia, and most recently Libya, were more about local corruption and lack of government legitimacy than a determination to install Islamist regimes in place of existing dictators. Thus when Arab peoples took it upon themselves to fight for political change, the Islamist vision of Osama bin Laden was not part of the agenda.
I do not see the end as just around the corner; more probably it is years away. But the end of the Global War on Terror could be closer than its beginning.