How well have we really done against Al Qaeda?

August 31st, 2011

Historians have often said that we always fight new wars with lessons learned from the last one. Ten years ago, after the tragic events of 9/11, we were woefully unprepared for the battle against Al Qaeda. An organization that existed not in the physical space of a nation state, that might be dealt with by brute force, but rather as a 21st century decentralized network, that would require new methods and a new geopolitical mindset. This would be a war requiring intelligence, patience, technology and whole new ways of looking at the world. Long before the death of Bin Laden, US efforts had been effectively shrinking and neutralizing Al Qaeda. How we did this has been a little known story that is now told by Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker of the New York Times, in their book Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America's Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda. My conversation with Eric Schmitt: