No, no, no. Not again. CNN’s headline says, “Capture may be turning point in Afghan war”.
Does this sound familiar? Here’s the lead paragraph of a June 2006 Washington Post story on the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq:
The death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi could mark a turning point for al-Qaeda and the global jihadist movement, according to terrorism analysts and intelligence officials.
And here’s the lead paragraph of today’s CNN story on the capture of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar:
The seizure of the Afghan Taliban’s top military leader in Pakistan represents a turning point in the U.S.-led war against the militants, U.S. officials and analysts said.
The capture of al-Zarqawi was no turning point. Al Qaeda is growing in Iraq. Capturing the Pakistan Taliban’s No. 2 won’t be a turning point, because the Taliban is too decentralized, Pakistani intelligence too compromised, and anyway the No.3 Taliban will fill No. 2’s shoes.
But the U.S. has no institutional memory. Six months from now, there will be another report of the death or capture of another Al Qaeda or Taliban leader. And the anonymous government officials and thinktank analysts will assure us that this marks a turning point. And the bombings and the ambushes will continue. It’s like every day is the movie “Groundhog Day.”