Al Qaeda’s Advantage

Even with the recent death of Osama bin Laden, the United States still is struggling to defeat the al Qaeda terrorist network because the nation is, in many ways, fighting the wrong war, asserted defense consultant Chuck de Caro Thursday at AFA’s Global Warfare Symposium in Los Angeles. Al Qaeda often conducts attacks to support its larger goal: an effective media campaign, said de Caro in his symposium address. Al Qaeda cannot defeat the United States on the battlefield, so much of what it does is designed for video and Internet distribution in order to encourage young terrorists, dishearten the West, bring in financial contributions, and attract new recruits to its cause, he said. The United States has the opposite approach to war, and does not prioritize what de Caro calls “softwar”: the media-video-Internet campaign often described as the battle for hearts and minds. Worse, the US military cedes the initiative in the war on terror to the enemy when it continuously responds to terrorist propaganda, focuses on tactical battles, and fails to take actions that would give it the initiative, contended de Caro.