We can continue fighting al Qaeda indefinitely and remain in a permanent state of quasi-war, as has already been the case for more than a decade now.
Or we can declare victory against the group and move on to focus on the essential challenges now facing America, notably the country’s sputtering economy, but also containing a rising China, managing the rogue regime in North Korea, continuing to delay Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons, and – to the extent feasible – helping to direct the maturation of the Arab Spring.
The case for declaring victory over al Qaeda takes two forms. First, there are al Qaeda’s own myriad weaknesses that make the group’s offensive capabilities rather puny. Second, there is the vast increase in the capacity of the U.S. national security industrial complex since 9/11, which makes America’s defenses quite strong.
Consider some of al Qaeda’s obvious weaknesses…