In the comments of a prior post, liberal safety-net man, claims that we have done no damage to Al Queada through our invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq because “Al Queada in NOT a place”. In a dinner conversation I had a while back, another interlocutor claimed that blogs were great because they could not be censored by the government. At the same time, government does a sem-effective job as stopping money laundering and substantially restricts consumption of illegal drugs (but obviously very incompletely).
So, the question on the table is, in an imperfect world, how useful/effective is going after the physical manifestations of threatening organizations. In the case of blogs, the government can always shut down DNS or DDoS the server. In the case of money laundering the government has effecitvely gone after the Islamic “charities” that were a big part of Al Queada fundraising. In the case of terrorism, captured Al Queada leaders have specifically claimed that US operations in Afghanistan have disrupted plans. The invasion of Iraq prevented Saddam from executing the terrorists attacks on the US that Russia’s intelligence service said he had planned (and which may or may not have involved chem/bio pathogens). It also cowed Libya into abanding its nuclear program and revealed the Khan nuclear proliferation network organized out of Afghanistan. Speaking of Afghanistan, the steady progress of closing in on Al Queada in southern Afghanistan/northern Pakistan has forced the leadership into the cities of Pakistan resulting in the capture of Noor Khan (Al Queada’s CTO) and the disruption of terrorist plans in progress to attack downtown New York City. Much of the remaining Al Queada leadership is hiding out in Tehran and in military bases on the Caspian Sea. We may or may not actually do something to Iran, but there is no question that if we did, Al Queada woudl be even more disrupted.
And, by the way, the Isrealis don’t think attacking the physical leadership of an organization is ineffective. Their targetted killing of the leadership of Hamas has dramatically reduced terrorism in their country. Perhaps an organization is not a place, but it does have headquarters and locations and they matter!