Earlier this week, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri released an audio recording telling U.S. President Barack Obama that although “America came to us with a new face…[Obama] did not change the image of America among Muslims.” Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud subsequently issued his threat that he would “teach the US a lesson” and “take revenge … in Washington.”
Despite these and other recent threats, the new administration’s plan to win the War on Terror, recently re-named the “Overseas Contingency Operation,” remains ambiguous. While Obama counters al-Qaeda by increasing troops to Afghanistan, he also ordered the closing of Guantanamo Bay, where al-Qaeda detainees are held. The administration also seeks to engage Iran, a sponsor of Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney recently noted that such policies, which reflect a “law enforcement mode” rather than a “wartime” mode, have made the country more vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Noted scholar and JPC distinguished fellow Daniel Pipes concurs. He believes that U.S. foreign policy may be heading in a worrisome direction.