What The Bin Laden Documents Say About His Thinking
Documents and articles from the Brookings Institution were included in the lode of papers that were seized in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, so it is natural that two Brookings scholars – Brendan Orino and Jeremy Shapiro – would take try to shed light on what he did and did not learn from his reading.
After reviewing some of the items on Bin Laden’s bookshelf, they come to the conclusion that, in part, he was aware that the U.S. believes Al Qaeda core has been diminished and their next goal was to divide the broader extremist movement.
“Decentralization, a key theme in the documents, is at the core of Bin Laden’s organizational problems but ironically also the bane of America’s fight against terrorism at large. Pillar writes that more dispersed networks composed of looser operational connections and nameless leaders will make counterterrorism efforts more difficult. McCants and his co-author explain that jihadis no longer need attend central training camps; instead, the Internet is sufficient in many cases to inspire and instruct,” they contend.
Poking China Will Have Negative Consequences
There is more than a war of words between the U.S. and China as warnings were exchanged between the two nations. China cautioned a U.S. surveillance plane engaged in approved flights, while the U.S. countered with a warning of its own not to interfere.
While both sides have amped up their words and actions, The Straits Times noted the complexity of the territorial issues in the South China Sea and issued a call for calm and a reduction of tensions.
“The disputes in the South China Sea are complex, involving six parties – China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei – each with differing claims. China is thought to have the most expansive of these, although it has not formally enunciated what this entails. The only guideline is a map, lodged with the United Nations in 2009, which has an undefined series of 10 dashes encircling the South China Sea, although most observers believe that the dashes mark China’s maritime borders,” outlines the editorial.
The hardening of the U.S. stance, one analyst contends, will not achieve the desired results.
Feng Zhang of Foreign Policy argues that sending American warships into the South China Sea as a way to demonstrate U.S. opposition to China’s aggressive posture will not result in an easing of tensions, but will only harden the resolve of the Asian giant.
“It will compel China to leave reputational considerations aside and adopt straightforward strategic assertiveness. Beyond the ADIZ designation, which China will almost certainly announce soon, Beijing will formally station naval units on it reclaimed artificial islands — which will soon be fit for military purposes, particularly Fiery Cross Reef. This probably would have happened anyway; but U.S. military involvement has considerably quickened the process — triggering a dangerous strategic competition that could have been avoided,” he suggests.
The U.S.-China Relationship Moving Forward
Chinese Vice Minister Cui Yuying and Asia Society Policy Institute President Kevin Rudd recently discussed the reforms being implemented by President Xi Jinping and the implications of those reforms on the U.S.-China relationship. Note: The discussion is lasts for more than one hour.