'Strategic Patience' Will Neuter Al Qaeda

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 17, 2009 2:52 PM CDT
Smoke billows from J.W. Marriott hotel after an explosion went off in Jakarta, Indonesia, today.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Al Qaeda is weak militarily and “has been rejected by a great majority of Muslims,” Steve Coll writes in the New Yorker, but the terrorist organization and its affiliates can still create a “shock” like today's bombings in Jakarta. Despite the group's apparent inability to pull off a major attack like Sept. 11, “bombings like the one in Jakarta will recur for an indefinite time.” The only solution is for the US to assume “a posture of strategic patience about terrorism that is durable, vigilant, and proportional.”

“Achieving this, however, would require a much stronger national political consensus about terrorism and American responses to it,” Coll writes, “so that this subject is no longer a legitimate arena for the manipulative and demagogic politics of the Cheney school.” But it can be done: India responded to the Mumbai bombings with “extraordinary restraint,” and “Britain eventually found a politics-proof consensus to outlast the Irish Republican Army.” The leaders of al Qaeda “lack a vision of modern politics,” Coll writes, and should be allowed to meet the defeat they have created for themselves.