Osama bin Laden is long dead, but his plans live on through American foreign policy.
In 2001, al Qaeda consisted of only 400 ideologues in the far corners of the world. After the recent regime change wars in Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Syria, typical estimates place their membership at around 20,000. To top it all off, the American economy is out $5.6 trillion dollars for the whole failed project. This is not the legacy of a war to spread, or even protect, liberty and prosperity. Instead it is the legacy of an evil but gifted tactician, al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Contrary to the popular misunderstanding of al Qaeda’s motives and strategy, bin Laden and his partner Ayman al Zawahiri were not trying to scare America away with the September 11th attacks. They were trying to provoke an overreaction. Al Qaeda’s leaders wanted the U.S. to invade Afghanistan in order to bog our military down, “bleed us to bankruptcy,” and force a worn-out, broken empire to leave the region the hard way, and permanently, just as they had done to the Soviet Union in the 1980s with American support. Only then could they hope to launch the revolutions they sought in their home countries without interference from the American superpower.