This argument is quite often bandied about, but universally never supported by evidence.
Most telling is an exchange between former counter-terrorism analyst turned academic Leah Farrall and Islamic militant Abu Walid al-Masri. al-Masri, in Farrall's words is a legendary figure in mujaheddin circles.
A 30-year veteran of jihad, he was known during the Soviet-Afghan war for his prowess as a military strategist. Years later, he became the first foreigner to swear allegiance to Taliban leader Mullah Omar.
He counts among his old friends Osama bin Laden and the senior leadership of al-Qa'ida, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan as well as Taliban-linked military commander Jalaluddin Haqqani.
But speaking specifically to the Taliban - Al Qaeda relationship, Farrall states:
In his most recent letter to me, where he responded to an article I wrote for The Australian on al-Qa'ida's Afghanistan strategy, he dropped the loudest bomb of all. He tells me the Taliban will no longer welcome al-Qa'ida in Afghanistan. Their return would make matters more complicated for the Taliban because "the majority of the population is against al-Qa'ida".
According to Abu Walid, the differences between al-Qa'ida and the Taliban are greater now than they were before the war. Not only is al-Qa'ida unwelcome in Afghanistan but so are other salafist groups who previously operated in the country.
He believes that disassociation is required. He tells me "if the link between the Taliban and al-Qa'ida is not broken the results will be bad for the Taliban and Afghanistan". And he thinks that the Taliban should also move away from the salafist movement so it can be liberated "from all of the restrictions that hinder its political options".
Last week, US special envoy Richard Holbrooke reiterated that the US would be willing to negotiate with the Taliban if it renounces al-Qa'ida. The Taliban is unlikely to renounce al-Qa'ida, but Abu Walid's letter indicates that it may disassociate.
If only US media would actually report substantive news rather than debunked tripe about ACORN or Tiger's adultery, etc....
Again, a withdrawal would of course provide short term propaganda to Al Qaeda, but hollow rhetoric. A truly fervent jihadi will be drawn to the cause no matter the situation, but for all other financing and recruitment, a compelling threat must be conveyed to potential fighters and backers. By de-legitimizing Al Qaeda as a military threat, and as the overwhelming threat to western civilization.......and removing the perceived threat to Muslims [occupations], we take away that compelling threat that motivates many jihadi's.
So can someone....anyone....explain to me the rationale for even tepid support of escalation? Given that nearly all of the rhetoric provided fails to support the reality...does it simply boil down to 'well at least we're doing something?' Even though that something is counter-productive?