In his recent interview with The New Yorker, President Obama referred to today’s al-Qaeda fighters as the “jayvee” team. Obama stated:
The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.
It’s not surprising that Obama takes this position. As Steve Bucci of the Heritage Foundation reminds us, before Benghazi, Obama claimed that al Qaeda was essentially defeated. Now that this claim has been undermined, and not just by Benghazi, his fall back position is that al Qaeda is a pale imitation of what it once was.
But this position is dubious. It’s true that al Qaeda is much more decentralized than before. But in some ways, this makes it more of a threat because it is harder to pin down
Moreover, according to CNN, “al Qaeda appears to control more territory in the Arab world than it has done at any time in its history.” Not bad for a “jayvee” team.
In his New Yorker interview, Obama argued that just because al Qaeda makes territorial gains in areas where a power vacuum exists doesn’t mean that its fighters have the desire or the capacity to attack our homeland. But where is the evidence that they lack this desire or capacity? According to Heritage, there have been at least 60 plots to attack the homeland since 9/11, and the number has risen in recent years.
Let’s also keep in mind that the pre-9/11 al Qaeda didn’t look like “Kobe Bryant” either. Neither the Clinton administration nor the Bush administration took it seriously enough, and this low regard helped pave the way for 9/11.
Let’s hope that Obama takes al Qaeda more seriously than his trash-talking interview with the New Yorker suggests. To take al Qaeda lightly would be the approach of a jayvee president.
UPDATE: Israel says it has foiled an “advanced” al Qaeda plan to carry out a suicide bombing of the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, among other targets.