The Annals Of Neoconservative Denialism

Commenting on a recent BBC poll showing that majorities around the world do not regard US-led efforts against al-Qaeda as successful, Commentary’s Abe Greenwald writes that he’s not surprised, “considering the candidate in the lead for President of the United States feels the same way.”

Debating John McCain last week, Barack Obama dropped this whopper on 53 million American viewers and another 60 million viewers and listeners worldwide: “Al-Qaeda is resurgent, stronger now than any time since 2001.” When the loudest, most revered American voice on the planet insists that U.S. victory is U.S. defeat what is the rest of the world supposed to think? And what are we supposed to think? Is this what Obama means by restoring America’s standing in the world?[…]

A U.S. that doesn’t deny its successes won’t necessarily inspire the rest of the world to join in the celebration. But it will halt the course of the self-fulfilling prophecy of America’s decline.

Interestingly, last year’s National Intelligence Estimate (pdf) contained a similar whopper:

Al-Qa’ida is and will remain the most serious terrorist threat to the Homeland, as its central leadership continues to plan high-impact plots, while pushing others in extremist Sunni communities to mimic its efforts and to supplement its capabilities. We assess the group has protected or regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capability, including: a safehaven in the Pakistan Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), operational lieutenants, and its top leadership. Although we have discovered only a handful of individuals in the United States with ties to al-Qa’ida senior leadership since 9/11, we judge that al-Qa’ida will intensify its efforts to put operatives here.

As a result, we judge that the United States currently is in a heightened threat environment.

In June, a New York Times article on Al Qaeda’s gathering strength in Pakistan quoted Pentagon consultant and RAND Corporation terrorism expert Seth Jones telling whoppers:

The United States faces a threat from Al Qaeda today that is comparable to what it faced on Sept. 11, 2001.

So Greenwald’s suggestion that the problem with America’s war on terror is that American politicians haven’t declared victory enough — as if people around the world needed Barack Obama to tell them that the Bush administration has been a disaster — is merely preposterous. Greenwald’s suggestion that criticisms of Bush’s anti-terror policies are themselves contributing to “America’s decline,” however, is genuinely craven.