Read it here.
I have been attacked for callousness and worse for saying that Bin Laden did us a favor on 9/11, but I am increasingly sure I was right. Until that date, he partially owned Afghanistan and his supporters were moving steadily toward the Talibanization of Pakistan as well. There were al-Qaida sympathizers within the Pakistani intelligence services, armed forces, and nuclear establishment (which then included the A.Q. Khan network). There was also an active Saudi support system, consisting mainly of vast tranches of money, for jihadism worldwide. Now, Afghanistan is lost to Bin Laden and Pakistan has had, at least officially, to modify its behavior considerably. The A.Q. Khan network has been shut down. The Saudi ruling class identifies its state interest with a repudiation of al-Qaida, inside and outside its own borders. And the one remaining regime that openly preached holy war and helped train jihadist forces like the "Fedayeen Saddam"—the pseudo-secular terror state in Iraq—has been irretrievably smashed. Wherever Bin Laden is now, it cannot be where he wanted or hoped to be four and a half years ago.
Given the utter discredit and isolation of its forces in Iraq, who would still say that the fighting there is a "distraction" from the hunt for al-Qaida? They have taken tremendous casualties, obviously in the hope that their atrocious tactics would swiftly dissipate coalition morale and coerce Iraqi support. And it seems as if they haven't learned from their mistake.
None of this, of course, has made any impression on the Democrat left, which still mired in the imaginative quagmire of Vietnam, continue to insist against all evidence that Bush has bungled the "War on Terror". They are so invested in this idea that one suspects that at least some of them are rooting for Bin Laden.
Of course the NYT has a contrary view. In a piece today, Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon argue that al Qaeda is winning the war and will continue to do so as long as US forces are in Iraq. Read it here.