Monday, February 06, 2006

Br'er Osama 

Via our stalwart colleague Gordon of Alternate Brain: Don Rose, writing in the Chicago Tribune, is troubled by the convenient timing of Osama bin Laden's latest video message, in which the bearded fiend "reached out from some cave halfway around the world to give the president a much-needed public-relations boost for the second time in about 15 months":
Bush and bin Laden each will get exactly what they want from the latest message, reinforcing the view that both halves of this odd couple really need each other--and neither wants to quit the other.

The fact is, each plays the role of organizing symbol for the other, strengthening respective political bases. Nothing helps a political leader rally his troops more than having a clearly defined enemy . . . .

The administration and its right-wing echo chamber seemed to take the speech at face value. They glommed on to it as a vindication of their own "stay the course" position and used it to attack anti-war Democrats as witting tools of the enemy . . . .

So why would bin Laden make such a speech at this time? Does he really think he is convincing the American public? Is he nuts?

Of course not.

Bin Laden fully understands that he is the most universally despised person in America. He is a master of what used to be called "reverse English" or backspin.

Bin Laden understands that by attacking Bush he enhances him and by seeming to support American war critics he discredits them in many quarters. In short, he wants Bush around as long as possible, he wants Bush to have public support and he wants the occupation to continue for all the reasons stated above . . . .

Bin Laden's re-emergence was so perfect it might as well have been staged by Bush strategist Karl Rove.
He said it; we didn't. Elsewhere, Mr. J. Wolcott directs our attention to Antiwar.com, where William S. Lind sees dire portents in Osama's latest tape:
Most observers, including the White House, seem to have missed its significance. In it, bin Laden offered us a truce (an offer we should have accepted, if only to attempt to seize the moral high ground). The Koran requires Muslims to offer such a truce before they attack. The fact that bin Laden himself made the offer, after a long silence, suggests al-Qaeda attaches high importance to it.

Why? My guess is because they plan a major new attack in the U.S. soon. I would be surprised if the plan were for something smaller than 9/11, because that could send the message that al-Qaeda's capabilities had diminished. Could this be "the big one," the suitcase nuke that most counterterrorism experts expect somewhere, sometime? That would certainly justify, perhaps require, a truce offer from Osama himself. Of course, al-Qaeda's plan may fail, and it may be for an action less powerful than setting off a nuke on American soil. But the fact that Osama made a truce offer should have set off alarm bells in Washington. So far, from what I can see, it hasn't.
Lind is also predicting an attack on Iran, in the form of Israeli airstrikes, very soon -- possibly before the end of March.

| | Technorati Links | to Del.icio.us