If you have not done so, you should read Jeh Johnson's speech at Oxford, which is already receiving a great deal of attention--particularly on the issue of whether there really is an end to the current armed conflict with Al Qaeda:
In the current conflict with al Qaeda, I can offer no prediction about when this conflict will end, or whether we are, as Winston Churchill described it, near the “beginning of the end.”
I do believe that on the present course, there will come a tipping point – a tipping point at which so many of the leaders and operatives of al Qaeda and its affiliates have been killed or captured, and the group is no longer able to attempt or launch a strategic attack against the United States, such that al Qaeda as we know it, the organization that our Congress authorized the military to pursue in 2001, has been effectively destroyed.
At that point, we must be able to say to ourselves that our efforts should no longer be considered an “armed conflict” against al Qaeda and its associated forces; rather, a counterterrorism effort against individuals who are the scattered remnants of al Qaeda, or are parts of groups unaffiliated with al Qaeda, for which the law enforcement and intelligence resources of our government are principally responsible, in cooperation with the international community – with our military assets available in reserve to address continuing and imminent terrorist threats.
There are several outstanding analysis of the speech well worth reading. The bloggers at Opinio Juris and LawFare offer several posts. Check out these posts by Deborah Pearlstein, Kenneth Anderson, and Jack Goldsmith.
What do you think?
Charles A. Blanchard
United States Air Force