Bin Laden’s death is not, as Peter Beinart suggests in the Daily Beast, the end of the war on terror. Unfortunately a shadowy underworld of “Islamic” terror groups continue to pose an unprecedented threat around the world. Unlike anarchist and communist terror groups in the past, they can kill hundreds and even thousands of people at a time, and they have the ability to disrupt commerce and the free flow of people around the world. The threat that these groups could acquire chemical, biological or nuclear weapons of mass destruction is still very much alive; we live in an era in which non-state actors can wield levels of violence on a scale once restricted to states.
This underground, with links to organized crime, is opportunistic and evolving. New leaders will emerge, new tactics will develop, and new attacks will come. This remains a strategic threat, and whether we admit it or not, the state of war continues. We are winning that war by degrading the capacity and depressing the elan of these groups. They are losing their popular support in most places; a decade of growing international cooperation has made the world’s counter terror measures significantly more effective.
So to amend Beinart, we are winning this war, but it isn’t over yet.