The New Science of Progress, and the Old One

News Roundup

Editor’s Note: I’m continuing for one more installment of my “News Roundup” format in a last push to catch up with everything that’s been happening while I was completing my book on Atlas Shrugged.

I’ve also realized that impeachment news could easily swamp everything else that’s going on in the world, so I will be isolating that issue into separate impeachment-only updates. This will also keep that story from distracting from my new book project, a defense of the autonomous individual against the illiberal conservatives, for which I would appreciate your support.—RWT

1. Baghdadi Is the New Bin Laden

The killing of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a US-led special forces strike is good news. When I read a line like “in suicide bombing [Baghdadi’s] head removed intact”—I imagine it popping upward like a champagne cork—I can’t help smiling at the image it evokes. That may seem somewhat ghoulish, but in the case of Baghdadi, who in addition to all his other crimes was a serial rapist, it’s a healthy reaction.

So this creep’s killing is good news in the way that the killing of Osama Bin Laden was good news. But there’s the rub.

Why did we even know who Baghdadi was in the first place? Because after our intelligence services and special forces tracked down and killed Bin Laden, President Obama decided that this was good cover for withdrawing the last of our troops from Iraq and totally ignoring what was happening there. It was in that strategic vacuum that Baghdadi managed to start up the Islamic State in Iraq, which then spilled over to another chaotic area that Obama studiously ignored, Syria.

The lesson is that killing terrorist leaders is only one part of a strategy for suppressing the threat of Islamic terrorism. Another big part is recruiting, training, and maintaining local allies to fight against them and keep them from establishing safe havens. When you do the first of these things while ignoring the second, you tend to get new terrorist leaders to replace the ones you killed.

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