by Zack Beauchamp
Yikes, Secretary Panetta:
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta declared Saturday that the United States is "within reach" of "strategically defeating" Al Qaeda as a terrorist threat, but that doing so would require killing or capturing the group's 10 to 20 remaining leaders.
Arriving in Afghanistan for the first time since taking office earlier this month, Panetta said that intelligence uncovered in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May showed that 10 years of U.S. operations against Al Qaeda had left it with fewer than two dozen key operatives, most of whom are in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and North Africa.
Well isn't that confident. Ackerman parses the statement, looking at three possible interpretations. Juan Cole develops his own plan for beating al-Qaeda, though, for my money, he overstates the significance of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for anti-American radicalization. It matters, but not as much as many would have you think.