One of the
most active fronts in the war on terror is Washington, D.C., where skirmishes
over our understanding of al Qaeda have grown increasingly frequent and
battle has raged for years, recent events have raised the stakes. From the president
of the United States on down, analysts, scholars, and pundits have been
confounded by the evolution of al Qaeda from a single, central group based in
Afghanistan into a hydra with heads in (at minimum) Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, Mali,
Somalia, and most importantly, Syria.
has grown ever more acrimonious since the maybe-or-maybe-not
al Qaeda attack on the U.S.
consulate in Benghazi, but it reached new and unprecedented heights this
weekend when al Qaeda Central (AQC) issued
a statement to fire one of its affiliates, the Islamic State in Iraq and
Syria (ISIS), formerly known as al Qaeda in Iraq.
unequivocal statement came after months of bloody infighting among jihadi
groups in Syria, and it makes it clear that defining
al Qaeda isn't just an "inside the beltway" problem. Not even al Qaeda has
a firm grasp on the question.
pin down AQC's health and influence too often focus on a specific moment in
time, rather than examining it as a transition in progress. Perversely,
evaluations of al Qaeda's threat as a global terrorist organization suffer from
the opposite problem, focusing too much on what it once was and what it could
be again in the future -- an organization whose main priority is carrying out
those poles is al Qaeda as it exists today, a movement and an organization in
the midst of dramatic structural transformations that is primarily focused on
fighting wars and insurgencies.
Who's in charge?
On Sept. 12,
2001, al Qaeda existed as a single organization with a clear chain of command
and employees numbering in the hundreds to low thousands, depending on exactly
where you draw your lines. Then, the leader of al Qaeda was Osama bin Laden.
Today, it's Ayman al-Zawahiri.
It is almost
certain that al Qaeda, the organization -- the specific group that carried out
the 9/11 attacks -- still exists in some form, based on the border between
Afghanistan and Pakistan with an unknown number of employees answering directly
to Zawahiri and under heavy pressure from U.S. drone strikes.
Data on the
size and strength of that organization is scarce, but opinions are plentiful.
Can AQC itself carry out major terrorist attacks against the United States or
does it rely on its officially acknowledged affiliates -- al Qaeda in the
Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), al Shabab,
Jabhat al Nusra, and a host of groups often lumped under the amorphous label of
"al Qaeda-linked"? Understanding and accurately describing these
inter-group dynamics has plagued analysts, myself included, for years.
in the 1990s, bin Laden's al Qaeda coordinated closely with Zawahiri's Islamic
Jihad, so much so that Islamic Jihad members were paid a salary by al Qaeda,
according to testimony in the 2001 trial of the East African embassy bombers.
That salary was higher than the one paid to actual al Qaeda members. Yet many
analysts maintain that these were two separate organizations until June 2001,
when they formally announced their merger.
same time in Bosnia, the Egyptian Islamic Group led by the blind Sheikh Omar
Abdel Rahman, who inspired the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, played a crucial role in controlling
foreign fighters who had come to fight the Serbs, while al Qaeda moved money
and operatives in and out of the conflict. Today, many people still talk about al
Qaeda in Bosnia as if that encompasses the whole landscape, when the
reality is far more nuanced.
9/11 attacks, al Qaeda began to designate official affiliates, further
complicating matters. These organizations swore loyalty to bin Laden, and
later, to Zawahiri. In return, they were officially recognized as affiliates,
theoretically under the command of AQC.
is much we don't know about the current size and operational status of AQC,
there is ample evidence that the top-down command structure -- with Zawahiri's
organization on top of the pyramid -- is, at a minimum, under tremendous
We can debate
whether it has completely collapsed, whether it is severely damaged, whether it
is still hanging on, and whether it might mount a comeback, but the evidence
overwhelmingly indicates that control of al Qaeda's affiliates is slipping out
of Zawahiri's hands. This weekend's disavowal of ISIS by AQC is only the most
recent and explicit example.
talk about al Qaeda and its affiliates as if this structure has a clear
precedent, deep roots, and a long history of cohesion. In fact, the
"affiliate program" was barely off the ground before cracks began to
form. Al Qaeda in Iraq, and its leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, went off the rails
almost immediately, and AQC tried -- futilely -- to rein
him in through private correspondence, which was captured in Iraq and
Afghanistan and later published by the U.S. government. The conflict was only resolved with Zarqawi's
death in 2006.
Zawahiri has indisputably lost control of AQI, now known as ISIS. In June, ISIS
tried to take control of al Qaeda's official affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al
Nusra. When Zawahiri came down in
support of the powerful newcomer, ISIS openly
defied him, with its emir posting a video online explicitly rejecting the
order to confine its activities to Iraq.
Al Nusra has
remained loyal to Zawahiri, but since the al Qaeda chief has ruled in its favor
that loyalty costs nothing. It's decidedly unclear who holds the whip hand in
the relationship between AQC and al Nusra, but the latter undoubtedly has more
men, more money, and more popular support than the former. If Zawahiri had
ruled against al Nusra, the only difference in outcome might well have been the
name of the affiliate that broke with AQC. Al Nusra doesn't really need al
Qaeda, but al Qaeda desperately needs al Nusra to remain relevant at a global
few tools at his disposal with which to influence his junior partners. Prior to
9/11, bin Laden was able to use money and terrorist expertise -- coupled with
the promise of mobility and a safe haven for training -- to exert influence
over organizations that were not formally pledged. Zawahiri can no longer offer
a safe haven, and all of al Qaeda's official and unofficial affiliates have their
income streams, some of which are
competitive with AQC's bankroll at its height.
al Qaeda was small enough for bin Laden to police its members, and there were
no alternative power centers within the organization that offered him
meaningful competition. Today, Zawahiri has plenty of competition but no
leverage for enforcement. Likewise, his ability to create financial incentives
is likely too limited to sway his well-funded affiliates.
authority AQC enjoys today derives from the religious weight of the loyalty
oaths he has collected, his elder statesman status, and his personal
charisma, such as it is.
Zawahiri has not faded into complete irrelevance. Open-source intelligence is
scarce on AQC's command-and-control structures, but recent
reports suggest he still exerts something like control over the
organization's Yemeni affiliate, AQAP, whose emir Nasser al-Wuhayshi was
reportedly named second-in-command for the al Qaeda global network in 2013.
But with the
loyalty of other al Qaeda affiliates falling along a rapidly diminishing
spectrum, Zawahiri has largely refrained from interfering in their internal
affairs in a way that exposes his weakness. At times, this has meant keeping mum even after senior AQC figures are killed. When
a senior jihadist with long ties to al Qaeda publicly called on Zawahiri to
intervene in a violent fitna (a
theologically-charged Arabic word for dissent among Muslims) in Somalia last
year, his petition received no public response, and the leader of al Shabab,
Ahmed Godane, solved the problem by killing
recently, when called on to end the
infighting among Syrian jihadi factions, including conflicts between two
purported al Qaeda affiliates and a third group that has telegraphed
its desire to be seen as part of al Qaeda, Zawahiri in January issued
a statement that invited the combatants to find a solution, but articulated
no specific orders. Rather than
appoint a leader in Syria, he told the jihadi groups to decide on one
themselves, saying he would approve of whomever they picked. It was an
extraordinarily weak statement for someone who purportedly commands loyalty
from at least one of the most important groups in the theater.
Zawahiri is starting to resemble a guide more than a military commander -- a
spiritual influencer like jihadist cleric Abu
Muhammad al-Maqdisi or an intellectual influencer such as Islamist Yousef
Al Qaradawi. After al Qaeda disavowed ISIS over the weekend, ISIS members
tracked by the author on social media spent far more time viciously attacking another
influential critic, Abdallah Muhammad al Muhaysini, than complaining about
the change in status.
this, Zawahiri is still important as an influencer -- profoundly so. His
January statement on Syria -- issued concurrently with statements by a number
of other jihadi influencers including
Muhaysini and Maqdisi -- may
well have contributed to a pause in the infighting. Being a respected voice,
however, is not the same as being commander-in-chief.
To manage an
organization with tens of thousands of employees and branches all over the
globe would be a daunting task for anyone, let alone someone whose travel,
communication, and information-gathering opportunities are severely curtailed.
It's not surprising that Zawahiri is losing control of the organization and the
movement. It would be surprising if he did not.
factor might matter very much to this calculus. Zawahiri has years of
experience running covert terrorist organizations, but he has never run or
participated significantly in an overt military campaign.
crucial gap in his experience, because the al Qaeda of 2014 does a lot more
warfighting than terrorism.
Is al Qaeda still primarily a terrorist
The heated debate
over command and control can obscure the most fundamental evolution of al
Qaeda, which is the easiest to describe and quantify but rarely discussed on
its own merits. It has morphed from a discrete terrorist group into a
wide-ranging fighting movement that conducts insurgencies, recruits foreign
fighters into conflicts, raises funds, and conducts terrorism on the side --
almost certainly its least-resourced component.
conclusion requires no stroke of genius; it is patently obvious. But the
political and emotional freightage that accompanies the word
"terrorism" makes it hard to utter. Even the New York Times refers to al Qaeda as the
"world's most notorious terrorist organization." But while
technically true, the label is increasingly misleading.
This isn't a
question of tactics -- al Qaeda's insurgent activities frequently include
horrific terrorist tactics. It's about goals. Although there is no clear
consensus, most experts define terrorism, in part, by the indirectness of its
objectives: exerting political influence through intimidation and violence
generally directed at noncombatants.
What we see
today are al Qaeda militias whose objectives are extremely direct -- to
capture, hold, and govern territory, along with attacks of a genocidal
To be sure,
al Qaeda has always had a close relationship to war. It was founded
on the remains of the jihad against the Soviet Union and it has
consistently recruited terrorists from the veterans of wars and conflicts
involving Muslims, as it did in Bosnia. But it was not traditionally a primary
combatant in these conflicts. That has changed.
No matter what
estimate you're working with, there are far more people currently fighting
with an acknowledged al Qaeda affiliate than belonged to the pre-9/11
organization during its entire history -- by multiples.
weight of al Qaeda manpower and funding (the sum of both AQC and its official
affiliates) currently goes to support insurgencies and warfighting, including
both foreign fighters and regional residents under the same flag. While this activity is obviously
concentrated in Syria, every major al Qaeda affiliate has followed the same
course to some extent, deploying forces to hold territory and attempt
governance from Mali to Somalia to Yemen.
Al Qaeda is
clearly still in the terrorism business, but terrorism is no longer its
flagship product -- in the same way that the Mac no
longer dominates the Apple brand. Terrorism is the product on which the
organization was built -- and it still matters -- but it is no longer the main
line of business.
al Qaeda fighters have died
on battlefields in the last couple of years, but scores at most have been
arrested or killed while carrying out plots
against the U.S. homeland. This is true even when you include people whose
terrorist ambitions are inspired by al Qaeda without a direct network link, and
when you expand the set to include other forms of non-insurgent terrorism against other targets.
these figures, admittedly much less concrete than we would like, the number of
formally al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist operatives bent on attacking the West
compared to al Qaeda-affiliated fighters in Muslim lands may be as low as a
fraction of 1 percent, or using the absolutely broadest criteria, perhaps as
high as 10 percent.
The new al Qaeda
is still radical, extremist, and incredibly violent. It certainly has not
forsaken terrorism, and it may shift the balance of its activities toward
terrorism again in the future. But overwhelming evidence suggests that
terrorism is now decidedly secondary in al Qaeda's portfolio.
Does al Qaeda's evolution into a fighting
group mean there will be less terrorism?
9/11, nearly all of al Qaeda's resources were devoted to terrorism, but only a
few hundred people could be credibly considered members of AQC, the only al
Qaeda that existed then. Today, terrorism occupies a much smaller percentage of
al Qaeda's portfolio -- but the portfolio itself is much bigger since it
includes the activities of al Qaeda affiliates. As a result, the terrorist threat
could still be higher despite the change in focus. But this is not necessarily
There are a
number of variables, especially in the short term, that factor into the overall
al Qaeda threat. The above estimates of size and focus are largely unscientific and based on sometimes sketchy
open-source information. There is no reliable open source estimate for the
total number of al Qaeda fighters and terrorist operatives worldwide, and
classified estimates may not be much better. Evaluation is further hampered by
disagreements among analysts, scholars, and policymakers over who should be included.
The ratio of
fighters to terrorists is also a guesstimate. For instance, it's possible that
international terrorism is considerably less than 5 percent of al Qaeda's
overall portfolio, but it could be higher as well. A margin of error of just a
couple percentage points is enough to tip the balance.
There is also
the question of what the baseline comparison should be. Do you compare al Qaeda
of 2014 to the 2009 edition, or the 2000 edition? Or do you try to compare it
to highly relevant hypotheticals. For instance, what would today's al Qaeda
look like in the absence of the Syrian conflict -- the single biggest factor in
its transformation? While these questions are, to some extent, made moot by the
actual flow of events, the proliferation of conflicting opinions of whether al
Qaeda is stronger or weaker stem in part from a failure to define a baseline.
As such, it is worthwhile to briefly flesh out the scenarios that lie beneath
On the one
hand, Syria has been a recruiting bonanza, creating thousands of armed
supporters for al Qaeda's brand of radical jihad. On the other hand, if the
Syrian civil war had not broken out, it's not clear what the veterans of al
Qaeda in Iraq would be doing now. Some would have tried to resume normal lives,
no doubt. But others would be left with their rage, training, and weapons in
search of a target, whether in Iraq or abroad.
have never really had a good grasp on the mechanics of radicalization. One
thing, however, is fairly clear: Becoming a warfighting jihadist is a much more
appealing moral choice than terrorism. Individuals who would never have
volunteered to fly airplanes into civilian buildings can be swayed to take part
in the Syrian jihad, where there is a clearly rational -- and even morally
defensible -- line of argument for action. The decision to fight in Syria is not
automatically radical or extreme.
people now fighting in Syria would simply have stayed home if the conflict had
not erupted in the way it did? This question is unanswerable, of course, but
it's probably not an insignificant number. Those people are now surrounded by
others who have a considerably more extremist view of the world. An
individual's network of associates is one of the few reliable indicators of
terrorist radicalization. If you hang out with violent extremists, you are far
more likely to become a violent extremist. The best
available research suggests that some number of foreign fighter recruits
will turn to terrorism who would not have otherwise.
that al Qaeda's new focus on warfighting will suck the oxygen from its
terrorist operations in the short and medium term, but that is far from
certain. And when (or if) the Syrian civil war ends, we will face a whole new
set of variables -- and likely an increased terrorist threat.
Is a fighting organization a more
desirable adversary than a terrorist organization?
the still-unrealized specter of nuclear or biological attacks, war has always
been far more disruptive and destructive than terrorism. It is more destructive
in terms of lives lost, property destroyed, and economies ruined. It causes
more civilian casualties, even when it does not specifically target civilians.
This has been the case in Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, and now Syria.
of these countries have been laid to waste, and for many residents, there is
little hope for a return to peaceful existence any time soon. All told, these
warfighting activities have an immensely higher human cost than terrorism. In
the long term, however, that steep price buys some opportunities for Western
and Middle Eastern countries opposed to the spread of extremism and terrorism
-- cold comfort for sure, but better than none.
difference between terrorist organizations and fighting groups lies in the
scope of conflict: For warfighters, the conflict eventually draws to a close,
whereas for terrorists, it can drag on indefinitely.
extremism tends to arise when a weak movement with a small number of followers
pits itself against an impossible foe with no realistic expectation of success.
As such, some violent extremist movements can linger for decades or longer,
moving through periods of increased and decreased activity. Consider the Ku
Klux Klan, which still persists in the United States despite the
impossibility of its political goals and the contempt with which it is viewed
by the vast majority of Americans.
Wars can also
continue for decades, of course. But often they are defined around goals which
-- if achieved -- can change the equation and create possible avenues for
that goal is currently the ouster of Assad. It is far from certain that Assad's
ouster will lead to peace in Syria -- in fact, the odds are stacked against it
Libya). But the nature of the conflict is likely to change and evolve if
and when the Syrian dictator falls. Some combatants will be satisfied with some
outcomes. Others will change their goals to reflect new realities. Still others
-- the real diehard extremists -- will not be satisfied until they have created
a new global caliphate.
motivations and objectives of the majority of fighters
currently carrying black flags into battle may be fundamentally different from
the nihilistic ideology of al Qaeda, in which fighting must continue until the
end of the world, regardless of victory or failure. Warfighters have exit
opportunities that are unavailable to most terrorists, particularly those of al
Is an embryonic al Qaeda state a more
desirable adversary than a stateless radical group?
One of those
exit opportunities is especially unpalatable for the West -- the emergence of
islands of sovereignty governed under al Qaeda's outlier interpretation of
would be interpreted as a victory by al Qaeda supporters and would result in
great suffering for those unfortunate enough to live in a region under such a
brutal and authoritarian regime. But it also comes loaded with pitfalls and
challenges for the theoretical conquerors.
it is extraordinarily difficult to govern for long without a certain critical
mass of consent by the governed (though it need not be a majority). Effective
tools to rule in defiance of popular support include vast wealth and resources,
an existing power base, an aura of invincibility, and the promise of stability
and security. None of these tools can be found in al Qaeda's belt.
few options. In the instances where it has gained control over significant territory
-- as it has in Mali, Yemen, Iraq, and Somalia within the last five years --
al Qaeda affiliates have thus far opted to govern as purists on the theory that
their ideology is divinely ordained and obviously superior to the alternatives.
This has largely backfired, resulting in quick losses of territory through a
combination of internal dissatisfaction and external military pressure.
Qaeda succeed in staking a persistent claim over a significant amount of land
in the future, it portends further evolution. Organizations that hold territory
have an interest in protecting their control of that territory. None of al
Qaeda's territorial gains thus far have been stable enough to exist as anything
but a war zone. If one of al Qaeda's emirates were to survive long enough to do
anything except hold on by the skin of its teeth, its leaders may find that
ideological purity is inadequate to feed and protect an infrastructure and a
population, not to mention cultivate a tax base. Successful governance requires
attention to issues other than purist ideology.
If al Qaeda
succeeds in establishing an emirate but fails to moderate, a valuable global
learning moment may occur: Rather than being unseated by Western military
force, al Qaeda's experiment in governance could fail on its own terms --
laying bare the fact that black flags and beheadings are of limited utility in
preventing polio, building roads, or sustaining an economy. There would of
course be a terrible human cost for those forced to live through the
experiment, and a host of second-order consequences to consider -- mostly
deriving from the perils associated with weak states, which tend to foster
regional unrest, instability, and criminal activity, while creating problems
with refugees, famine, and cross-border epidemics.
hypothetical al Qaeda nation with a specific geographic locale may actually
present a more manageable adversary than a stateless terrorist group, making
strategic approaches such as containment, destruction, isolation or negotiation
more straightforward. America's problems dealing with the Taliban regime in the
1990s are well-documented,
but it's hard to look at the current situation in Afghanistan and argue that the
outlook is at all promising. There may be options for dealing with
terrorist threats emanating from extremist Islamist states that stop short of
Can al Qaeda withstand its challenges
transformative factor in the evolution of al Qaeda is the rise of social media,
which is currently rewriting the infrastructure of how jihadi organizations
foot soldiers in the pre-9/11 era were carefully selected and even more
carefully indoctrinated, usually in remote training camps, where psychological
techniques -- including the isolation of new recruits from contact with the
outside world -- were applied to produce cultlike devotion. This process was
not universally successful, but it was pretty effective.
Qaeda's recruits are overt soldiers rather than covert terrorists, and they
often arrive on an active battlefield intent on picking up a gun and joining
the fray. This is a far cry from the lonely mountain camps in Afghanistan prior
to 9/11, where terrorist recruits endlessly grumbled about the long wait for
And good luck
isolating these new warriors from the outside world. Syria's civil war is an
unprecedented exercise in the
documentation of a conflict on social media, from Twitter to Facebook to
Instagram. Fighters also stay in
touch with friends and family using a variety of instant messaging platforms
and SMS texts.
members and supporters have been online for some time. But in earlier years,
they were heavily concentrated in the controlled environment of jihadist
message boards, where administrators suppress dissent and encourage the talking
points preferred by al Qaeda's leadership.
But over the
last two years, those control mechanism have also fallen by the wayside. Users
who were banned from the forums for discussing controversial topics (such as accusations
against ISIS or the rebellion
of Omar Hammami) have moved to social media, where they thrive and find
audiences, and where they can't be banned for speaking their minds. Some
jihadis have even adopted a stance in favor of freedom of expression, although
it's pretty easy to find their red lines.
has even spilled back into the forums, according to sources who track such
activity. The two most important jihadist forums, al Fidaa and al Shamukh, have
split over the Syrian infighting. Administrators of the former have suppressed
posts critical of al Nusra, with admins at the latter doing the same for ISIS.
Both of these forums are thought
to be controlled by AQC, so the fact that they are pushing different
narratives is significant.
call this trend the democratization of jihadism, but it might be more apt to
call it unionization. Jihadists on social media have a platform to present
their collective grievances, and to "vote" by tweets and Facebook
likes about the issues and problems that concern them most.
of al Qaeda's affiliates have not had a uniform response to this new form of
feedback, but most of them have responded in some way. In the case of al Shabab,
the response was to kill
the complainers and ban
the Internet, which has lessened but not eliminated open dissent. In Syria,
various jihadist influencers and leaders have pleaded with the members to stop
airing their complaints on Twitter and show some unity, with only sporadic
jihadists are raising vast amounts of money on social media, these grievances
threaten them where it hurts the most. If donors hear of infighting or
injustices, they might send their money in a different direction or withhold it
And if the
tide is visibly shifting against one group or another, the organization itself
turns to social media to fight back and argue its case. ISIS, for example,
maintains a very aggressive and disciplined presence on social media,
constantly pushing back against its enemies in fairly coordinated ways, most
recently with a series of coordinated tweets and hashtags attacking cleric al
It's too soon
to evaluate how this new dynamic might change al Qaeda, but it seems certain to
speed the organization's evolution. As individual fighters develop large
followings and question certain tactics -- such as the morality of fighting
other jihadists or the wisdom of banning cigarettes -- the leadership will
eventually have to adapt, either by suppressing these voices or by learning
from the wisdom of the masses and trying new approaches.
So what happens next?
immediate priority for the United States and its allies is to make sense of the
rapid changes al Qaeda is undergoing and then make the necessary policy
are many different dimensions to the course corrections the United States needs
to consider, the most important questions are these:
- 1. Do we believe jihadist warfighting organizations present a national security threat on a similar order to terrorist groups?
- 2. What policy tools do we need to deal with such organizations?
- 3. If such organizations are a national security threat by their nature, does it matter whether a group calls itself al Qaeda or not?
- 4. How do we address our concerns about these groups without embroiling ourselves in a series of counterproductive wars all over the globe?
- 5. What can we do to mitigate the risk that future terrorist organizations might emerge as successors to these fighting groups?
As the points
raised herein suggest, these are not simple questions -- but the United States
must venture answers. The fundamental nature of al Qaeda has shifted, perhaps
temporarily, perhaps permanently. But U.S. policies -- most notably the
Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that empowers the so-called war on terrorism -- remain fixated on the brand name and
organization that carried out the 9/11 attacks.
these policies allow for broad powers -- perhaps overly broad -- they are
geared toward fighting a terrorist mission that has become secondary to our
When a group
joins al Qaeda, U.S. policy options treat it as if it is part of the broader
terrorist organization. Although there is a certain amount of nuance about how
the United States goes about this in practice, the black-and-white nature of
the policy structure presents significant complications when it comes to
particulars, such as the question of whether
to designate Syrian rebel groups with al Qaeda sympathies as terrorist
organizations subject to sanctions.
question is probably most salient in the eyes of policymakers. Although
relatively few foreign jihadist fighters take up careers in terrorism, the rate
is still much, much higher than the general population, making participation in
jihadist warfare one of the few statistically significant indicators of who
will become a terrorist in the future.
Qaeda becomes more splintered or re-coheres around new leaders, it will almost
certainly continue to evolve -- and those changes could come very quickly. The
West in general, and the United States in particular, must become more agile.
The rhetorical heft of the word "terrorism" can cloud the
significance of the change in al Qaeda's strategies and objectives. The
organization's terrorist product is still important and the United States still
needs policies to address that threat -- but it must develop them with a fuller
understanding of its adversary.
If al Qaeda
is truly one of the defining policy challenges of the 21st century, our
strategies must address it as it exists today, not as a remembrance of things
past. America's inability to process the changes in al Qaeda has already
introduced profound complications in its ability to influence events in Syria.
As al Qaeda becomes more variegated and splintered, we will only face additional
dilemmas, including some we cannot yet foresee. If we can't define the
parameters of the problem we face -- and answer the policy questions that
derive from current realities -- we have scant hope of making any progress on
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