The United States had, in effect, defended itself for 18 months after September 11, 2001, then went on the offensive, carrying the war on terrorism to the homeland of most Islamic terrorists. The terrorists responded by killing a lot of fellow Moslems. The Middle Eastern nations responded by going after the terrorists. The result has been greater efforts to root out Islamic terrorism at the source. This has created something of a civil war in many Islamic nations as they finally confront the growing threat of Islamic radicalism.
Meanwhile, the Islamic radicals have seen themselves beaten at every turn. The original goal of the Islamic terrorists was the expulsion of all infidels (non-Moslems) from the Middle East. Beyond that, they wanted to revive the “caliphate” (all Moslem nations united in one large entity governed by Islamic law) and convert the entire planet to Islam. Before September 11, 2001, the United States and Europeans treated the growing Islamic radicalism as a police matter. On September 11, 2001, it became clear that the police approach wasn’t working. Within three months, the United States had invaded Afghanistan and removed the Taliban from power, and al Qaeda from their bases. Al Qaeda members in North America and Europe were hunted down and arrested in large numbers. All this just made the Islamic radicals in the Middle East angrier, and eager for revenge. Then came the invasion of Iraq. Al Qaeda members, and supporters, from all over the Middle East went to Iraq to join the fight. Most of them died. Now there were more infidels than ever in the Middle East. Terrorist attacks against the infidels in their homelands were declining. Local governments in the Middle East were attacking al Qaeda wherever it could be found. Al Qaeda condemned democracy as “un-Islamic,” but free elections were held in Iraq and Afghanistan for the first time in decades.
Most Europeans, and many Americans, disagreed with the Iraq invasion, and continued to believe that more of a police approach was the way to go. We’ll never know if that strategy would have worked, although it certainly failed in the 1990s. What we do know is that the Islamic terrorists are losing...
Hat tip: The CounterTerrorism Blog