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How Much Space Do You Need to Plot?

All else being equal, I feel better when Islamic militants control less territory rather than more territory. That said, when I read this from Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt I wonder about the logic:

It remains unlikely that Islamic militants could seize power in Pakistan, given the strength of Pakistan’s military, according to American intelligence analysts. But a senior American intelligence official expressed concern that recent successes by the Taliban in extending territorial gains could foreshadow the creation of “mini-Afghanistans” around Pakistan that would allow militants even more freedom to plot attacks.

I’m not sure I understand the relationship between “territorial gains” and “freedom to plot attacks.” You need a lot of territory to raise cattle or build a parking lot. But plotting doesn’t strike me as a particularly space-intensive activity. When the ThinkProgress team gets together to plot, we usually do it in a small confined space. More generally, the entire safe haven concept strikes me as overrated. The 9/11 attacks were primarily plotted in Hamburg. A terrorist in the Swat Valley is, by definition, not in a position to blow something up in a western city.

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