The Corner

Re: Bowden and Al-Qaeda

I’d like to actually highlight Bowden’s conclusion.  It’s important in today’s debates about whether or not to leave Iraq prematurely or whether or not it is wise to kick threats down the road. Neither the Clinton nor the Bush administration took al-Qaeda seriously enough before Sept. 11, but saying so is nothing more than the wisdom of hindsight. There is no question that Clinton’s decision to call off the mission in Somalia after the battle heartened our Islamist enemies and confirmed their judgment that the United States would withdraw at the slightest sign of determined resistance. They were wrong about America. For better or worse, I suspect today they know they are in a fight.And, as a proud former Philadelphian (and two-time contributor) can I also point out how interesting the Philadelphia Inquirer’s commentary pages (where Bowden’s piece appeared) have become in the past year or so?  While so many papers streamline opinion, the “Inky”—especially since it went independent—is one of the few that seems to embrace it.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.

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