Al-Qaeda and the rest of the global Jihadi movement, the Taliban, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi Sipah-i-Sabaha and company, already seemed to be losing momentum as popular mass movements; for example, a recent poll in Afghanistan showed that 86 percent of all Afghans preferred the present status quo to a return to Taliban rule, this despite the U.S. military’s incredible blunders and the pandemic corruption of the Karzai regime in Kabul.
As a result , the Afghan Taliban have been reduced to using non-Afghan suicide bombers, and brainwashed Pakistani boys and girls as young as 8 years old, to try to destabilize the country. The bombers are recruited, trained and equipped inside Pakistan, and increasingly they are being sent to attack non-military targets like weddings, mosque congregations, crowded bazaars and commuter buses.
As the popular appeal of the atavistic fanatical ideology of Jihadism wanes, more and more Moslems are turning toward a more secular, progressive vision of the future. The mass movements currently sweeping across North Africa, the Levant and Arabia are ideological opposites of Jihadism; their members are demanding more social mobility, more economic opportunities, more freedom.
Bin Laden’s death seems like a kind of marker, between their vision and his, one sliding inexorably into the past while the other grows ever more powerful.
This does not mean, however, that we should declare “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” and the War on Terror won and done; and it certainly doesn’t mean that we should peremptorily abandon Afghanistan to the same Pakistanis who sheltered bin Laden all these years and who continue to wage their proxy war against the Afghan people under the guise of Taliban. If anything, this is the moment for cowboying up, for abandoning the lies, equivocations and betrayals of the past and helping the world’s Moslems in their struggle to join the 21st century.
Bin Laden was only one of our enemies the perfidious Pakistanis have been protecting and plotting with. Gulbuddin Heckmatyar, Jalaluddin Haqqani and Mullah Omar and the entire Taliban leadership, the so-called “Quetta Shura,” have been living comfortably on Pakistani soil, conniving with their Pakistani Army cronies to send i.e.d. makers, suicide bombers, assassins and hit teams across the border into Afghanistan to kill our soldiers, sabotage reconstruction and terrorize the vast majority of Afghans who oppose them. We should tell the Pakistanis now, not next month or next week, to hand over the lot of them. And no more “We don’t know where they are, but as soon as we find them….” A New York Times reporter went to Quetta a couple of years ago and it took her less than 24 hours to find Mullah Omar’s “hideout,” a palatial walled villa in the middle of town; the first taxi driver she asked drove her right by the place.
And while we’re at it, let’s set the Saudis down and and tell them to quit funding the religious extremists and fanatics who plague the Islamic world and menace the rest of us as well. If they want to live in a medieval dreamland inside their heads, fine, whatever floats their boat, but quit trying to force that tired-out vision on the 95 percent of all Moslems who find it utterly unappealing.
This is one of those rare moments in history when change for the common good is actually possible; we shouldn’t waste it.