It’s the 19th anniversary of September 11, 2001, one of the most harrowing historical events in living memory. Today, our podcast hosts reflect on their personal memories of the day as a launching point into a discussion about the United States’ current understanding of al-Qaeda nearly two decades later. In reality, we don’t talk about al-Qaeda much anymore other than within the context of Trump’s “endless wars” rhetoric. Just this week, the Trump administration announced that troops in Iraq will be reduced to 3,000. What’s more, peace negotiations are taking place with Taliban representatives, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and representatives of the Afghan government this weekend. So as Steve points out, “You’d be forgiven for thinking this is all over.” But as Dispatch Podcast guest Tom Joscelyn reminds us on today’s episode, “Al-Qaeda is still very much alive.” Though Tom concedes that there’s a lot you can criticize about U.S. military intervention post-9/11, “It’s much more common, in my experience, that people who are against the U.S. using military force or U.S. military action to play disconnect the dots than it is for some sort of a so-called hawk to overconnect the dots.” On today’s episode, Tom, Sarah, and Steve discuss American intelligence officials’ current misunderstanding of al-Qaeda, the UAE and Bahrain’s plans to normalize their relationship with Israel, and the real and imagined foreign threats to the upcoming election.
–“Why ‘Outside-In’ Diplomacy Could Be the Key to Middle East Peace” by Jonathan Schanzer, “This 9/11 anniversary arrives with the end of the war on al-Qaeda well in sight” by Christopher Miller, director of the National Counterterrorism Center in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and “The Falling Man” by Thomas Junod.