At this October 18 event, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross warns America not to make the same mistake George Foreman made in the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” fight against Muhammad Ali. There, Muhammad Ali was able to exhaust and ultimately defeat someone of undeniably greater power by using Foreman’s own strength against him. Similarly, Bin Laden devised a strategy to defeat America by using the U.S.’s economic strength. Having learned from the collapse of the Soviet Union, he planned to bankrupt the U.S. by forcing it to spend an exorbitant amount of money on defense.
Gartenstein-Ross’s point is not that America is on the verge of collapse, but rather that al-Qaeda is much more skilled and determined than American policy makers like to believe. Rather than assuming al-Qaeda is a diffuse organization with no real goal, Washington should recognize the group’s two key strategies: to economically undermine the U.S. and make the war with the U.S. as broad as possible – both of which were achieved in the Iraq War. Though central al-Qaeda might be weakened, Gartenstein-Ross argues that the United States can become more efficient and effective in fighting Al Qaeda affiliates such as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb if it understands the groups’ methods and protects against them.