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9/11: A Decade Later

Compiled by Binyamin Rose

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria. On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Professor Barry Rubin rates the international actors in the global theater of the War on Terror and looks ahead at the next decade.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Professor Rubin, has the Western world developed a more realistic approach to terrorism since the War on Terror began?

If we put it in terms of the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the answer is no. The salient issue here is the surprising extent to which the West doesn’t understand the threat. Here’s the problem. The threat, in the narrowest sense, is the successful launching of terrorist attacks against Western targets. In that narrow sense, Western security has improved against direct terrorist attacks, generally speaking. But the real threat is the strategic threat that will make terrorism stronger in the near future. There is little appreciation for this among politicians who won’t confront the fact that revolutionary Islam is the main threat.

The enemy has been defined as al-Qaeda because al-Qaeda attacks Western targets, but the bigger strategic threat is the takeover of entire countries by terrorist or pro-terrorist groups. That’s a far bigger danger, and this is what’s not being recognized, so one can easily be misled.

Obama can say we have pushed back al-Qaeda, but even though al-Qaeda failed, the al-Qaeda of “jihad now” has been greatly expanded. Even though the specific groups that staged the 9/11 attacks are considerably weaker, the concepts behind those attacks are much stronger today.


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