Sunday, October 31, 2004
The Return of bin Laden
...and just in time for Halloween, too...
In all seriousness, a number of right-of-center / "neocon" bloggers are eating some crow right now, myself among them. I truly believed that Osama was dead, based largely on the slim-to-nil chance that he'd have kept silent since Tora Bora (when he was last heard from).
As Froggy explained in detail, any number of major events -- by Osama's reckoning -- have happened since then. Osama was never a warrior, never any sort of military leader; he was a financier and a cheerleader, always seeking the spotlight so as to rally his "troops". For him to have kept silent for so long was unbelievable.
Well, I guess it's time to believe the unbelievable. (We've had to do that vis-a-vis Osama before, haven't we?)
There's been a lot of speculation about the authenticity of the tape. Personally, I don't think it matters much. Unless the tape is an obvious forgery, people will react to it as if it were of Osama himself. This applies to Americans, Iraqis, terrorists here and there, and so on. So we might as well assume that it's real.
Having stipulated that, what can we expect next? And what can we learn from the tape?
Personally, I tend to agree with what Wretchard has said (follow that link for a transcript of the videotape). In short:
It is important to notice what he has stopped saying in this speech. He has stopped talking about the restoration of the Global Caliphate. There is no more mention of the return of Andalusia. There is no more anticipation that Islam will sweep the world. He is no longer boasting that Americans run at the slightest wounds; that they are more cowardly than the Russians. He is not talking about future operations to swathe the world in fire but dwelling on past glories. He is basically saying if you leave us alone we will leave you alone. Though it is couched in his customary orbicular phraseology he is basically asking for time out.The American answer to Osama's proposal will be given on Election Day.
UPDATE: Here's a more complete (and more authoritative) transcript of the videotape, at least those parts al-Jazeera was willing to show. You might want to check this out as well.
Donald Sensing sees the videotape in the same way, and puts it in the context of Osama's previous public statements. (A lengthy but worthwhile read, especially for fans of The Untouchables, like me.) He concludes:
Al Qaeda is down. It's time to kick, kick hard, and keep on kicking until there is nothing left to kick.Roger Simon agrees; he also isn't concerned with the authenticity of the tape, although for different reasons.
Finally, Froggy has his own take on the whole thing. It gets a bit flip in places, more so than is to my taste. Still, he makes the (rather sobering) point that Osama is sounding more and more like Michael Moore and Terry McAuliffe; this does not reflect well on the Democrats right now! And anyway, how can I object to a post that says:
Despite my fervent hopes, it seems that UBL is alive and kicking and probably registered to vote in Ohio as a Democrat.My hat's off to the Frogman. Now -- let's get back to work, shall we? (And, as part of that work, let's find the evil bastard, now that we know he's out there to find!)
Daniel in Brookline
> After 9/11 there was not much else to do.
Sam, I guess this comes down to a philosophical difference. Was 9/11 a one-time event, to be dealt with as a law-enforcement matter (as Kerry advocates), or was it part of a long-term war, to be fought as a war (as Bush advocates)?
Personally, I'll go with the second choice (which won't surprise you much). As such, I don't believe that capturing Osama bin Laden was Bush's primary task. His primary task was to neutralize terrorists and terrorist organizations that posed a threat to the United States, and to do what was necessary to get us there.
It's my opinion that he has done that, and is doing that. (Please note that there have been several terrorist attacks since 9/11, many of them attributable to al Qaeda, but NONE of them on American soil. Homeland Security has its troubles, goodness knows, but they're doing something right!)
Nor do I believe that after 9/11 "there was not much else to do". Here, too, is a difference of philosophy. If a schoolyard bully hits you hard, do you tell him to stop and hope he listens? Do you tell a teacher you've been hit, and hope they'll keep an eye on the bully for you? Or do you decide that this is an ongoing problem, to be dealt with as such, and do you then take steps to make sure he doesn't hit you again?
My view is that terrorism has long been a problem, affecting Americans and others alike; but it took 9/11 to wake us up to what the terrorists would do to us if they could only figure out how. If we leave the door open for another major attack, we'll get one... and it will likely make 9/11 seem tame and mild by comparison.
Getting Osama will not make us safe; rooting out the terrorists will. Of course, that's my philosophy; yours may differ.
Daniel in Brookline