What's next for War on Terror?

November 4, 2011 4:43:10 PM PDT
By the end of this year, the U.S. military's role in Iraq will be minimal. And there are reports this week that the troops in Afghanistan will be drawn down as well. So what is next for the decade long War on Terror?

The former executive director of the 9/11 Commission was in Houston Friday, talking about what happens after our major military operations are over and the enemy we engaged 10 years ago isn't the threat it once was.

Since September 11, 2001, we have lived in a post 9/11 world -- one with wars in two countries and various threat levels here at home. But Dr. Philip Zelikow says that is about to change.

"I think the country's gonna feel like a chapter is coming to an end," Zelikow said.

He should have a good sense of things -- he was the executive director of the 9/11 commission, is a member of the president's intelligence advisory board, and he says as the wars end and after the death of top al Quaeda leadership, we are entering a new reality.

"I do think we're pretty close to the point where the enemy we went to war with is no longer an enemy that we need to stay at war with on anything like that scale," said Zelikow.

The threat will still exist, attacks may still happen, but the looming threat of al Quaeda has changed. More pressing problems such as global health or finance or the growing influence and violence of Mexican drug cartels will take center stage.

"So when I think of the threats to public order I don't think mainly about Islamic extremists as posing the principle threat," Zelikow said.

And so he says we are shifting to a time where intelligence gathering becomes even more important and at home vigilance.

"If we can maintain vigilance and resilience, so that as a country when we don't get hit, we don't get hysterical about it. We learn, examine, adapt, get a little stronger; but keep going on with our lives. Then I think we'll be in a position to adapt to a post-war world," said Zelikow.

He does not see us withdrawing completely from Iraq or Afghanistan. He sees us having some presence in and ability to respond to any place that might support terror for the foreseeable future.


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