In the ongoing, debate, we see two camps. One stating that we were defeating the enemy until Washington changed direction three years ago, and another boasting that America was losing the war until three years ago when a change of direction brought victory in sight.
Some really believed that the years following the attacks have brought the free world and democracy to an inch from victory. Others among us believe that thanks to today’s policies we are finally better than ever before.
Sad to say at this anniversary, but both views are wrong. We weren't close to strategic victories some five years ago and we are far from defeating the
jihadists today. This sober assessment isn’t for domestic politics consumers, far from it.

Here are some realities:
Afghanistan: Bringing down the Taliban regime was a smashing victory for the U.S., NATO and the Afghan people particularly for women and minorities.
Defending the country against the return of the jihadi militias and containing their incursions from inside Pakistan’s enclaves were the right strategic choices. But the U.S. and NATO failed to engage civil society groups, women, and secular wings to help launch a democratic revolution in the country instead of spending billions on asphalt, construction, and futile unproductive projects.
We surged against the Taliban but we didn’t help the people surge politically via massive education efforts. Now we are doing the unthinkable: negotiating with the Taliban for Afghanistan's future.
Iraq: Managing the country without a strategy to confront the ayatollahs and Bashar’s regimes was a mistake. As in Afghanistan, work half done in Iraq backfired. Billions were spent and huge human sacrifices were made without enabling the Iraqi society to rise against the multiple anti-democracy
Now a catastrophic policy of abandoning Iraq’s democrats to the region’s
Islamists, during the past three years seems to be what we're left with.

Yes Saddam is gone, and there is a multiparty system in Iraq. But Iran controls the Shia militias that are devouring the government and two-thirds of the country; the Salafi Islamists of the Sunni areas are pushing back against the moderates; the Kurds are encircled by three threatening regimes; and the Christians and other minorities are relentlessly persecuted. 
Iran: The present administration has dangerously engaged with Tehran, allowing the Khomeinist regime to expand its threats in all directions: Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain, Eastern Arabia, Northern Yemen and other continents. None of the U.S.' policies, including sanctions, have stopped Iran’s development of missiles and its frenetic pace to equip them with nukes. And when the Green revolution exploded, we let the Pasdaran take back the streets unquestioned.
 The Arab Spring: Before it even started, the Arab Spring’s true democratic forces were already abandoned by Washington. Back in 2008, Hezbollah invaded Beirut and crumbled the Cedars Revolution of 2005 under heavy silence from both the Bush administration and  Congress.
The next year, the Obama administration turned its back on the opposition in Tehran. Civil societies in the Arab world tried to revolt next. In early 2011, secular youth rose and brought down the Mubarak regime but Washington preferred to empower the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and their Islamist colleagues in Tunisia.
In Libya the administration joined the fray against Moammar Gadhafi only to eventually partner with the country’s Islamists. In Syria Washington’s hesitates between the Baath and the Brotherhood ignores  democratic reformers. The same alignment is projected for Yemen, Bahrain, and other Arab countries. The democrats of the Arab Spring are losing.
 Al-Qaida: The long relentless campaign against the top entity of the jihadists bore results over 10 years. They lost the sole regime that backed them openly in Kabul, retreated to Pakistan, lost more of their commanders by the years, and eventually lost their leader Osama in 2011. But multiple other tentacles of the organization have grown bigger and longer in reach.
Still operating and killing in AFPAK, franchises opened in Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, North Africa, and their cells hit in India, Russia, and Europe. Al-Qaida today is 10 times larger in global reach than the old one headed by bin Laden.

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