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Al-Qa'ida and the Dustbin of History

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  • Al-Qa'ida and the Dustbin of History

    Want some good news? Al-Qa’ida’s days are numbered. It’s not a security thing or an intelligence thing or a counterinsurgency thing; it’s a generational thing.

    Violent revolutionary movements tend to run in forty-year cycles of rise, peak, and decline. The reason is simple. The established order has failed to address a series of concerns critical to a disenfranchised segment of the population. A bunch of “Young Turks” come along, point to the inability of the old farts to deliver, and offer their violent alternative as a means of shaking things up and getting genuine change. Are you with me so far? Swell.

    Then, after about twenty years of shaking things up, all the Young Turks aren’t looking so young any more. A new generation of Young Turks has come along, but the founders of the movement tell them to shut up, not make waves, and follow orders. But if there hasn’t been a lot of real progress toward the goals of the movement, that younger generation starts wondering why they’re doing all the bleeding, and for what? Enthusiasm starts to wane, recruiting is down, and the Old Guard (not really Young Turks any more) rely on increasingly violent means to keep their own rank and file in line and keep hold of the headlines. But in a couple more years they are just a bunch of ineffective old farts unable to deliver on their promises, and a new generation grows up realizing that rather than being the solution, those old guys are ...


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