We have almost passed the seventh anniversary of 9/11, which demarks America's entry into direct conflict with the menace we know as al Qaeda. At a combined cost of some 7,500 American lives and several hundred allied soldiers, and many thousand Iraqi and Afghani civilians, the results are not impressive. Even less satisfying is the expenditure of roughly $1 trillion for the war in Iraq and our global effort against terrorism.
Our war against the elusive Osama bin Laden and his affiliates has brought little in terms of conclusive results—at least the kind that Americans define as success. It is time to step back and look at al Qaeda and the broader conflict it inspired, and to examine where transnational terrorism and the anti-American jihad is heading.
A Bad Investment
The American taxpayers who supported the invasions want to see a return on their investment. They want to see bin Laden's head on a pike, or at least know that he will be executed like Saddam Hussein. Instead bin Laden remains at large, presumably sitting in a small compound deep inside Pakistan's under-governed tribal area.