Thursday, January 19, 2006

Staying the Course

Bin Laden released a tape today that essentially said Al Qaeda will continue its attempts to attack the United States, unless the U.S. pulled out of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as "... give an apology to all the widows and orphans and those who were tortured. Then ... announce that American interference in the nations of the world has ended."

Of course, the Bush Administration promptly stated "we do not negotiate with terrorists" (unless it suits us, like with Quaddafi or Kim Jong Il), and that we would be staying in Iraq and Afghanistan indefinitely.

Now, if you were Bin Laden, what would you be trying to accomplish with this tape? We know he's not stupid - he's evaded capture from the largest manhunt in history for over 4 years now. He knows he can't speak for all Islamic terrorists, who operate in multiple isolated cells (al-Qaeda is basically a franchise - a brand name lent to Islamic fundamentalist terrorists around the world for the appearance of pan-Islam solidarity). His goal has always been the goals of Wahabi fundamentalism, which demands that all states and peoples who aren't Wahabi moslem (even mainstream Sunni and Shia) be converted or killed - starting in particular with war against the United States.

So what possible purpose would be served by this half-assed offer of peace?

Perhaps, knowing this administration, he knew that anything he would ask for, the U.S. administration would reflexively do the opposite.

He wants the U.S. in Iraq. He wants the U.S. in Afghanistan. Why? Because every day we're there, he is able to convince and convert more and more of the Arab world that his jihad against the U.S. is justified - the only way to get back their lands from the invader, the only way to avenge the killings of their innocents, the only way to achieve control over their own resources.

The largely secular Sunni based state that was Iraq was no friend of the United States. (Or at least, not since they invaded Kuwait - prior to then, we were great buds). But Iraq was no friend to Islamic fundamentalism either, and was in fact hostile to it (witness the war with Iran).

Bin Laden has managed to manipulate the largest, most powerful country in the world to achieve what he could never have achieved on his own - a united, extremist pan-Islamic state on the Arabian Penninsula.

(Side thought - Why do we keep doing this to ourselves? Supporting dictators and sham-democracies all over the world, from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan and Egypt, from Africa to South America, does not cause the populations of these areas to love the U.S. Most of the world sees our use of power as imperialistic and capricious, and as a result either hates or fears us. But they do love our McDonalds and Levis. Which of course engenders more hate and fear...)

Update: I just finished reading the full text of bin Laden's speech, and I'm more convinced than ever it was meant as a goad to piss off Bush and make him even more belligerent. And you have to ask yourself why.


At Thursday, January 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

An if we leave them alone .. everything ould be dandy

NOT, so what is the answer

At Thursday, January 19, 2006, Blogger A Muser said...

It would be great if I had a simple answer - then I could go onto talk radio and tv and tell everyone how stupid they are, and if they would only just listen to me...

I think the answers are complex, but include the recognition that democracy is about a government that the people put in place (not imposed by an external power) would be a guide post. Withdrawal of military in active roles, move to pure training and advisory roles, and only at the request of the duly elected government...reconstruction jobs going to Iraqis...establishing ties with multiple islamic groups so that we can recruit spies to help us root out our enemies...things like this would at least make it appear that we care about more than protecting the oil sources.

(Yes, I realize that oil is the only practical reason why we're there, and I'm all for what's good for the U.S. - but I think spending $300 billion here instead of there, having fewer kids die there, and not intentionally making new enemies are all good for the U.S. too...)


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