Center for American Progress

End the “War on Terror” and Refocus on Al Qaeda
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End the “War on Terror” and Refocus on Al Qaeda

The United States must shift its emphasis back to the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks and the global movement it has spawned.

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President Bush describes varied groups and state sponsors of terrorism as a single enemy, but only Al Qaeda has demonstrated the ability to attack the U.S. homeland from abroad or inspire one from within. The United States must shift its emphasis back to the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks and the global movement it has spawned.

Given their link to 9/11 and various plots directed at the West over the past seven years, Afghanistan and Pakistan should be afforded strategic priority over Iraq. We should no longer view Pakistan through the lens of Afghanistan, but as a country of concern in its own right. Increased unrest within Pakistan also means increased anti-Americanism. If we are attacked again, it is much more likely to be traced back to Pakistan than anywhere else.

Seven years after 9/11, a “strategic stalemate” in Afghanistan is unacceptable. While pushing NATO to do more, the United States must shift more resources to Afghanistan as it reduces its commitment in Iraq. While the situation in Iraq is improving, it must be carefully managed. A
precipitous and complete withdrawal from Iraq is ill-advised. Bosnia provides a reasonable model where forces were regularly and steadily reduced over several years as the situation stabilized.

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