But, now that efforts by the U.S. military against al Qaeda are in their 12th year, we must also ask ourselves: how will this conflict end? It is an unconventional conflict, against an unconventional enemy, and will not end in conventional terms [….]
In the current conflict with al Qaeda, I can offer no prediction about when this conflict will end, or whether we are, as Winston Churchill described it, near the “beginning of the end.”
I do believe that on the present course, there will come a tipping point – a tipping point at which so many of the leaders and operatives of al Qaeda and its affiliates have been killed or captured, and the group is no longer able to attempt or launch a strategic attack against the United States, such that al Qaeda as we know it, the organization that our Congress authorized the military to pursue in 2001, has been effectively destroyed.
At that point, we must be able to say to ourselves that our efforts should no longer be considered an “armed conflict” against al Qaeda and its associated forces; rather, a counterterrorism effort against individuals who are the scattered remnants of al Qaeda, or are parts of groups unaffiliated with al Qaeda, for which the law enforcement and intelligence resources of our government are principally responsible, in cooperation with the international community – with our military assets available in reserve to address continuing and imminent terrorist threats.
At that point we will also need to face the question of what to do with any members of al Qaeda who still remain in U.S. military detention without a criminal conviction and sentence. […]
I suggested in February that Candidate Obama campaign on a declaration that Al Qaeda has been defeated and the War on Terror over. He didn´t. But the idea has clearly moved from liberal corners of the blogosphere to a seriously entertained policy option.
Johnson is low enough in the pecking order to be disowned if there´s a blowback – but high enough for this to be a real trial balloon. I couldn´t find the usual weasel words about ¨only a personal view¨ in the speech. It looks as if Mitch McConnell has enough troubles for opening another front of conflct to be unappealing right now.
My prediction: there won´t be a blowback absent another serious terrorist incident (not just a scare) involving American citizens; Obama will wait till after the 2014 mid-terms not to give Republicans ammunition for the mid-terms, but will move soon afterwards to clear the issue for the Democratic candidate in 2016. So he will eventually keep his 2008 promise to close Guantanamo, after a mere six or seven years of lawless detention since Bush left the White House.
The “Old Superb” was barnacled and green as grass below,
Her sticks were only fit for stirring grog;
The pride of all her midshipmen was silent long ago,
And long ago they ceased to heave the log,
So all day long and all day long behind the fleet we crept,
And how we fretted none but Nelson guessed;
But ev’ry night the “Old Superb” she sailed when others slept,
Till we ran the French to earth with all the rest.
O ’twas Westward Ho! for Trinidad, and Eastward Ho! for Spain,
And “Ship Ahoy!” a hundred times a day;
Round the world if need be, and round the world again
With a lame duck lagging, lagging all the way.
HMS Superb was a real ship, a Royal Navy 74-gun ship of the line in the Napoleonic wars. The barnacles were sadly myth: at the battle of Algeciras Bay in 1801,
The Superb was a relatively new ship and had not been long on blockade duty. As a consequence she was the fastest sailing ship-of-the-line in the fleet.
But her fighting qualities were not. At Algeciras Bay, the Superb destroyed two larger Spanish ships and captured a third. The bold tactics that won Nelson decisive victories were only made possible by the huge ship-on-ship superiority of the Royal Navy over its adversaries.