Juliette Kayyem: Did the death of Bin Laden matter?
Peter Bergen: You know I was on set with Wolf Blitzer and he asked me a question directly after the President announced in that 12 minute speech that Bon Laden was dead. And he said ' what do you think?' and I said "the War or Terror was over." And that turned out to be obviously wrong. I mean what I meant obviously was "The War on terror is an essential organizing principle of American National Security policy. Surely with the Death of Bin Laden....it should be over." But you know obviously the rise-- the death of Bin Laden and the Arab spring seemed to have indicated that the end-- that Al Qaida was sort of out of business. I mean Bin Laden's death was merely the last of a long series of Al Qaida leader that have been killed in CIA drone strikes. And the Arab Spring had no meaningful Al Qaida presence or Al Qaida's ideas were absent. Between the two of those things it looked like that we wouldn't be having this conversation five years late about terrorism because it wouldn't be a serious issue. So, yeah. Did it matter? On one level, of course it mattered for justice for the victims of 9/11 and their families. And it's a matter of American national honor being restored on this issue. I think his ideas are still relevant unfortunately. You know, killing a man doesn't kill his ideas and if you look at ISIS, basically they're continuing Bin Laden's ideas. And they're doing semi-okay.
Peter Bergen: This is the way I think we should think about it: ISIS is not the problem. It's a symptom of a much bigger problem. There are three big problems coming down the pike. the first is the failure of governance in the Arab world. You can make a political law: the weaker the Muslim state, the bigger the ISIS presence is. So in failed states like ISIS or Yemen or Syria or Libya, ISIS is very strong. In semi functional Muslim states like Pakistan, it has a presence, but in functional Muslim states like Indonesia, it's kind of not really there. And so-- we're not going to fix that any time soon that's a very profound problem. The next big problem is an regional civil war between the Sunni and the Shia which has got very deep pockets on either side-- Iran, the gulf states, Saudi Arabia, they are making the problem worse. I mean Saudi Arabia invaded Yemen. There’s been a fiasco. They killed that Shia-- prominent Shia cleric. They are amping the problem up. the people who could dial it up seem to be wanting to amp it up. And then finally, you know, the rise of proto fascist parties in Europe combined with massive waves of Muslim immigration. I mean you do the math, it's pretty obvious what's going to happen. So these things are not... ISIS is not THE problem it's a symptom of some other problems.
Juliette Kayyem: When you say do the Math?
Peter Bergen: Well the math is you know the rise of proto fascist parties in France, Poland, pick your European country are creating an environment that is very inhospitable to immigrants. Yet we're seeing this huge wave of immigration from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria and some of-- there's going to be a collision, there's going to be a problem and you know some of these immigrants will turn to militant Islam as a form of dealing with the problems that they have so I mean this is a major problem for the foreseeable future, Luckily it doesn't effect the United States that much. But it obviously effects European countries.
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