Admiral Eric Olson is in charge of the US military special forces. He had some interesting things to say at the Aspen Institute.
But the four-star admiral warned of the fight to come against what he called al-Qaida 2.0, with new leaders like American-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, who Olson said understands America better than Americans understand him.
"It will morph, it will disperse," he said of the movement. "It will become in some ways more westernized, (with) dual passport holders" and "fewer cave dwellers," he said.
There's an issue I'd like to address here. Part of bin Laden's reason for the 9/11 attacks was to bankrupt us. He guessed we would spend all kinds of money on defense. He hoped we would invade a Muslim country--any Muslim country. And he guessed we would destroy our own civil liberties in our fervent desire to feel safe and protected.
We came through in spades. We're looking that the effect of borrowing money to fund two wars, invading two countries in the process, and Congress has continually extended the Patriot Act without debate. All airline passengers are considered possible terrorists. Our safety now relies on suspecting everyone. We're supposed to report anything that appears suspicious. Islam is vilified as the greatest threat to world peace.
We may not understand Anwar al-Awlaki very well, but to imply that he understands Americans better than bin Laden did belies the fact that bin Laden had us pegged. We now have political leaders so far to the right and spout such vitriol that it's impossible to compare their positions to historical ones without proving Godwin's law.
Olson said the fight against all versions of al-Qaida could keep U.S. special operations troops deploying at the same pace for another decade, even as U.S. conventional forces draw down from places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
Here's to ten more years of drone attacks, surgical strikes, and military incursions. But what a relief to know we have God on our side.