Leave it to NPR to muddle things up with facts. On "To the Point," some expert (sorry, my bouncing in and out the car on delivery day doesn't lend itself to getting names and titles accurately) was assessing the state of Al Qaida.
It sounded pretty grim for the bad guys. By his account, which he said was based on hundreds of interviews, Al Qaida membership is down from the low thousands at its peak in the mid-'90s to the low hundreds today. Its leadership ranks have been depleted. It has lost popularity in Muslim countries. Recruiting is declining. Perhaps most importantly, it faces an "existential" crisis over whether it has any legitimate role at all to play in the Muslim world anymore.
I thought, is this guy in the tank for George Bush? Then he was asked about Iraq, and I realized he was in the tank for nobody. As he pictured it, the war in Iraq was the one bright spot for Al Qaida. The war diverted resources and focus away from Al Qaida strongholds, allowing remaining forces to reconstitute themselves. The war also enlisted the support of thousands of Arabs who weren't necessarily sympathetic to Al Qaida ideology but who were outraged that America would invade and occupy a Muslim country.
The way he tells it, Al Qaida was the ropes, and we threw out a lifeline.
Then, a few hours later, Obama was saying on NPR that where he differed from Bush is that he would have kept up the pressure in Afghanistan instead of taking up the war in Iraq. If you listen to those elitist experts, that sounds like it would have been an awfully good plan.