Is it too much to hope that Bush will read the long Washington Post front page article about Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda? Would spending ten – okay 30 – minutes reading about this most dangerous of world leaders and his mercurial country (aka al Qaeda) be too much of an effort for him? If Bush really believes “we are fighting them there (Iraq) so we don’t have to fight them here” he needs a stiff dose of reality.
There’s no reason to pull quotes out of the article for Capital Hill Blue readers who I trust are quite capable of reading the article for themselves. Here a link: “The New Al Qaeda Central” by Craig Whitlock.
The sub-title tells us much of what every informed citizen, let alone the president, needs to know: “Far From Declining, the Network Has Rebuilt, With Fresh Faces and a Vigorous Media Arm”.
Now take the ten minutes to at least skim the article.
If you reacted to this as I did you’ll have a new respect for both Osama bin Laden and the leadership of Al Qaeda, and, if it’s at all possible, less for Bush and his advisors.
We invaded Iraq to rid it, and the world, of a ruthless dictator and WMD bluffer. We couldn’t wait for weapons inspectors to debunk this rifle totting egomaniac’s winky blinky denials about WMD because we didn’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.
Of course, the truth was that the only big bangs Saddam could fire was when he squeezed a few rounds into the air from his Tabuk assault rifle. I mean, this is a loony who had one of these plated in gold in his personal collection.
Osama bin Laden has his petty macho egotism too, as posing with rifles and the odd decision to color his beard suggest. Between Bush and his mission accomplished “package” enhancing flight suit and his enemies, I don’t see much difference in their need to play GI Joe machismo for the camera.
But consider that while Bush can command television attention just about whenever he wants to, according to the Washington Post article has improved it’s ability to get their message out to their sympathizers so that between 2005 and today they have increased the number of internet videos from 16 to 64. These have not only improved in quality and have subtitles in several languages, but some even include 3-D animations.
They are getting their message out through an untraceable network that includes people hand delivering recordings to tech gurus who then filter them through webmasters who have managed to hide their tracks.
Consider what Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, now the senior military assistant to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, had to say and think about the fact that our salesman for democracy is George W. Bush:
If we are unable to do a better job than our enemies of influencing the world’s perception, then even the most brilliant campaign plan will be unlikely to succeed. Unreadiness for the real-time reactions of an interconnected globe has often allowed a video-camera-wielding enemy “to run circles around us, especially in the information environment.” NY Times OpEd $
As far as Osama and his anti-American terror war goes, if reports are to be believed, he has constructed a network of smart and relatively young subordinate leaders who will carry on when he goes to his presumed holy reward. He’ll either die a martyr, givng short-lived bragging rights to whoever brings his head on a silver platter to Bush, or expire quietly from some pedestrian ailment.
Either way his followers will make the best of his death.
Meanwhile Bush will leave a legacy of Iraq’s bloody civil war, a revitalized al Qaeda, plus on the home front Constitution mocking signing statements and draconian executive orders which will take months to be undone by a Democratic president and Congress.
Associated Press article Bin Laden Branded `Virtually Impotent’ demonstrates how Bush and his close advisors seem to be ignoring what most intelligence experts say about the power and influence of bin Laden. Bush’s homeland security advisor, Frances Townsend, said this about bin Laden”
“This is about the best he can do. This is a man on a run, from a cave, who’s virtually impotent other than these tapes.”
But that’s the point! He’s not exactly “on the run”, he’s successfully running al Qaeda and we can’t find him. Not only is he functioning as the commander-in-chief of al Qaeda, but the tapes of him and his lieutenants are having their intended effect.
We are also failing in the struggle of ideas. We have not been persuasive in enlisting the energy and sympathy of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims against the extremist threat. That is not because of who we are: Polling data consistently show strong support in the Muslim world for American values, including our political system and respect for human rights, liberty and equality. Rather, U.S. policy choices have undermined support. from Washinton Post article By Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton “Are we safer today? Six Years After 9/11 and Three Years After the 9/11 Report, Is the U.S. Ready to Get Serious About Terrorism?”