-- Jessica Stern: Al Qaeda, American-style
We made a major error by going to war in Iraq. We overestimated the probability of success and ignored warnings of a likely insurgency. We were unprepared for a long occupation and unprepared to create a functioning state. And we did not fully consider how a protracted war would benefit our terrorist enemies for decades to come by allowing them to train against the most powerful military in history and reinforcing the incorrect but increasingly compelling idea that America is determined to humiliate and harm the Islamic world.
Some errors yield not only bad outcomes, but also bad choices, and this is one. It will be dangerous for both Iraqis and Americans if we leave Iraq as a failed state. But it is even more dangerous to remain where our continuing presence will inevitably result in further cruelties and atrocities, providing more arguments for more videos to attract more terrorist recruits around the globe — including here at home.