[F]or Al Qaeda — and perhaps no less for the American policies that have been built around the threat it poses — the democratic revolutions that have gripped the world’s attention present a crossroads. Will the terrorist network shrivel slowly to irrelevance? Or will it find a way to exploit the chaos produced by political upheaval and the disappointment that will inevitably follow hopes now raised so high?
For many specialists on terrorism and the Middle East, though not all, the past few weeks have the makings of an epochal disaster for Al Qaeda, making the jihadists look like ineffectual bystanders to history while offering young Muslims an appealing alternative to terrorism.
“So far — and I emphasize so far — the score card looks pretty terrible for Al Qaeda,” said Paul R. Pillar, who studied terrorism and the Middle East for nearly three decades at the C.I.A. and is now at Georgetown University. “Democracy is bad news for terrorists. The more peaceful channels people have to express grievances and pursue their goals, the less likely they are to turn to violence.”
Monday, February 28, 2011
Death To Al-Qaeda?
If all goes well -- and that's mighty big if; it's still the bottom of the second inning, and the law of unintended consequences is on deck -- the Middle East revolutions could mean freedom from tyranny for Arab peoples and freedom from fear for us. This New York Times analysis quotes Paul Pillar, who blogs at the Nixon Center's "National Interest":