Skip to comments.Bin Laden Looks for an Exit Strategy
Posted on 09/11/2007 3:46:40 PM PDT by brityank
Bin Laden Looks for an Exit StrategyBy Stephen Schwartz :
11 Sep 2007
Since 2001, each September we remember. Today, we first think of the frontline fighters in Iraq, Americans, Iraqis, and other members of the Coalition in combat, first against Saudi-incited, Wahhabi terrorism - miscalled a "Sunni insurgency."
But none of us forgets the terror inflicted on the whole world six years ago; the sudden appearance, after so many years, of a real sense of American national unity, and the equally-surprising commitment to change in U.S. policies in the Middle East. President George W. Bush, in vowing to promote democracy across the globe, brusquely abandoned the defense of the regional status quo that had come to define his party and even his family legacy. But as reported in The Washington Post on August 20, 2007, President Bush told the Egyptian opposition intellectual Saad Eddin Ibrahim, "You're not the only dissident. I too am a dissident in Washington. Bureaucracy in the United States does not help change."
The intervention in Iraq was a severe test for the doctrine of democratization. American solidarity in the face of terrorism disappeared almost immediately. Democracy became a term of derision among neo-isolationists and believers in the realpolitik that had led to 9/11 - expressing a contempt few Americans of the past could ever have imagined hearing. The Iraq war began in 2003, and four years later the president's opponents repeat the same disinformational charges they made then: mainly, that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11. But as I have said before, Nazi Germany had nothing directly to do with the Pearl Harbor attack on the U.S. by the Japanese in 1941. Yet Nazi Germany and Japanese imperialism were allied in opposing the democratic West, and what might only have been an American war of retaliation against the Japanese in the Pacific almost immediately became a two-ocean war against fascism.
The war against Islamofascism - a term originating, in its present meaning, among Muslims, and referring to fascism acting with a religious pretext, not the whole faith of Islam as a variety of fascism - was similar to World War II from 9/11 on. To respond to Al-Qaida meant confronting all of its allies, enablers, and friends, from the Taliban in Afghanistan and radicals in Pakistan through the distorted universe of Saudi-organized extremist groups everywhere Sunni Muslims live - in the West, but mostly in the East. The enemy's central theatre was always in the Arab world, but it operated and operates inside the U.S. as well as in Britain, its European stronghold, and from the Balkans to ex-Soviet Central Asia, from Sudan to Southeast Asia. The war on terror was always a world war, although arguing over whether it is or is not World War IV seems a waste of time.
Saddam's Iraq was a prominent link in the chain of radical Islamic tyranny extending across the Middle East. In an irony of history, Iraq had briefly been seized in a pro-Nazi officers' coup in 1941, led by one Rashid Ali, and Saddam himself grew up under the influence of Rashid Ali's nostalgic supporters. Although Rashid Ali was quickly overthrown, the 2003 U.S.-led intervention in Iraq may be viewed as a long-delayed settling of an account left over for more than six decades. There was, then, no break between the second world war, the Cold War, and the War on Terror; 70 years of the last century and the beginning of the present one have been consumed by contests between democracy and antidemocratic ideologies. Future historians may elide both world wars and the conflicts after them into a single, long war, "the global war."
The enemies of democracy change their uniforms or their vocabulary, and modify their tactics, but they do not change their essential character as haters of liberty and usurpers of power over human beings. Hitler preached peace while committing acts of war; Stalin and his Soviet successors did the same. Both dictators subsidized "peace movements" in the democracies. Both declared their actions were driven by self-defense against Western imperialist aggression; today's Islamists employ identical phraseology.
Fascism created strong national states as protective shells for real power held by the party, as Soviet Communism did with its multinational empire. The state itself, as a central modern institution, began disintegrating in the mid-20th century, replaced by the structures of ideology. As was predicted even before World War II, wars between states became obsolete, replaced by wars between foreign ideological forces, disguised as civil wars inside states. Standing armies were challenged by guerrilla armies and then by terrorist conspiracies. Radicalism among Sunni Muslims, which has its most important roots in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, surpassed that country's borders and became a post-national phenomenon.
On the sixth anniversary of 9/11, the most pressing question for Americans is: are we winning in Iraq? I believe that democracy and pluralism now have the advantage over the Wahhabi incursion and Shia adventurism in Mesopotamia. We have all heard the news: Sunni tribal leaders who supported "insurgency" (an honorable and therefore inappropriate term for bands of murderers) discovered, when Al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) showed up to "help" them, that the Wahhabi-Taliban regime AQI imposed was much worse than a U.S.-led occupation. And so the Iraqi Sunnis now turn to support for the elected government of Iraq, even though it is largely Shia and plagued with internal discontent.
Are we in America safer than we were before 9/11? Who thought this question would be answered immediately? Demand for instant gratification in the personal choices of Westerners has turned into demand for instant gratification in worldwide matters of life and death. Of course, the war in Iraq rallied jihadists against us; of course, the enemy's plots expanded in number and geographical range. After Britain and France declared war on Germany in 1939, the Nazis succeeded in occupying most of the continent of Europe; after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese invaded and held much of the Asian mainland. War is not a quick fix; politics produces quick fixes, and war is an admission that politics has failed, and that "other means" (in the famous phrase of the military strategist Clausewitz) are necessary.
The human, financial, and technological resources of Al-Qaida have diminished immensely since 9/11: it lost its Afghan base and then plunged into the Iraqi bloodbath, in which it is being defeated. Rather than a second Vietnam for the U.S. - comparing two wars that really have almost nothing in common - Iraq could be a fatal quagmire for al-Qaida. With the increasing failure of Iraqi Sunnis to rally to AQI, the enemy seeks to export the Iraqi jihad to the weakest area on the Western front: Europe.
But as became visible in the successive London terror conspiracies as well as the most recent investigation in Germany, Al-Qaida has been significantly degraded everywhere. In place of expensively-trained cadres driving airliners against the most famous buildings in the West, the enemy must have recourse to marginal fanatics using low-tech explosives. Superficial clichés about "homegrown terror" among Muslims in the West ignore two things. First, the conspiracies are never "homegrown," i.e. based in local grievances and organized spontaneously. They are always directed from the same nexus in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Second, the "terrorist movement" among European Muslims remains atomized and peripheral. Its criminal efforts require efficient detection, prevention, and punishment, but they are based in isolated cells, not in a network with ranks of volunteers such as Al-Qaida possessed in 2001. Cell operations cannot and do not replace mass movements in changing history.
Nevertheless, the Al-Qaida counter-offensive has weakened Islam in the West: it has, by intimidation, hardened the conformism of Sunnis in following the radical dictates of Saudi Wahhabi clerics, Pakistani radicals, and the supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, which together control Sunnism in the U.S. and Britain. American Islam, in particular, is spiritually, intellectually, and organizationally stagnant in a way never before seen in a religion with a new and growing presence in this country. It produces no new leaders of substance, and none who effectively questions why radicalism was promoted in American mosques so long; it cannot change its idiom except to adopt perfunctory denunciations of terrorism. The leaders of American Islam before 9/11 remain in place, relabeled as "moderates."
Finally, on the sixth anniversary of 9/11, an opinion on the latest video message from Osama bin Laden himself will be expected. Every expert on Islam, terrorism, and Iraq will have something to say about it. If one goes beyond the superficial and predictable rantings against American hegemony, the message of OBL now appears defensive. The tape released over the past weekend was apparently based on a script assembled by Adam Gadahn, or Azzam al-Amriki, the inept propagandist OBL and his cohort seem to have adopted as their media teacher, perhaps on the mistaken assumption that all Americans are media-savvy. But the tape is a mish-mash of historical gaffes, weird allegations and namedropping, and illiterate iterations of earlier messages. Reading the transcript, can we really believe Osama bin Laden sits and reads Noam Chomsky or obsesses about Richard Perle or imagines what it means for him to endorse the anti-Jewish pamphleteering of Michael Scheuer, the former "expert on Al-Qaida for the Central Intelligence Agency?" (Scheuer should not be pleased.)
These snippets in the OBL tape were obviously trolled from the internet and thrown together with "clever" gimmicks like the call for Americans to embrace Islam, plus jabs about taxes and the inefficacy of the Democrats. The old and aggressive Islamic idiom found in Bin Laden's discourse is missing. So is the fire. The tone is that of exhaustion, not exhilaration in jihad.
I believe, six years after 9/11, that Al-Qaida is losing badly in Iraq, and while George W. Bush perseveres with the promise he made to fulfill America's democratic legacy, Bin Laden is looking for an exit strategy. The Western mainstream media has it backwards; we are winning, the enemy is losing, the war was inevitable and honorable. And the innocents killed on 9/11 will be fully redeemed.
How do we even know that a live Bin Laden was doing the talking on that video? His beard would have had to have been dyed to go from the earlier mostly gray to the latest black. Do radical Islamists permit hair dying? And are hair dyes even available in the part of the world where he is supposed to be? It seems more likely that Bin Laden is dead - as has been speculated by for quite some time - and that his speaking image was created by electronic gimmicry. That would be consistent with the language used, which, as discussed in the article, could not have been prepared by the real Bin Ladin.
Those beliefs and traditions are what accounts for the primitive brutality of mohammed-worship, found wherever you find islam. Schwartz has not and will not honestly address those beliefs and traditions. You will not find him stating, for instance, that the notion of the koran as the literal word of allah is absurd, and needs to be defeated within the preceints of mohammed-worship.
Instead, he engages in a purported sympathy, which is a complete waste of time, unless you are interested in turning attention away from the central tenets.
Stephen Schwartz: walk into any of thousands of mosques in any number of dozens of countries - - any mosque - - in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, etc etc - - and proclaim that what happened on 9-11 requires the perpetrators to go to Hell.
You won't, because you know what true mohammed-worship is about. You would die. And because you do not believe the perpetrators of 9-11 will go to Hell.
Socialist are more honorable than this Dem leadership. The Dem party has been overrun with leftists and opportunists. The leftists have the furor of a fascist but lack the guts to call themselves communists. They do not really care whether we have health services with universal health-care. They just want the central government to control health-care.
My idea of an Exit Strategy for OBL: OBL kisses his rear good-bye!
I just heard that the latest tape has him spouting off about Madeleine Albright and troops in Saudi Arabia. That it is a photo still with his voiceover.
That tells me it is OLD, and he is dead.
Just my two copperheads.
Thanks for the PING, Brit.
From what I’ve gathered, it is not considered unusual for Muslim men to dye the Grey out of their beards. But some say that such dyeing is usually only done under specific circumstances. Personally, I know there is definitely something(s) not quite right about this video. But it is not just a straight unedited video of him being recorded within the last two months. This video is a doctored production.
I totally agree—the video is suspect. I know about the beard; that isn’t the part that bothers me, though it seems a lot fuller than his usual scraggly hair, so perhaps he had a hair transplant on his chin...;^)
The part that bothers me is the starts and stops of the first tape. He talks in sound-bites and not his usual fiery and flowery rhetoric to pump up his followers. All the current event stuff is done to a still. And the latest “video” is simply a still with his voiceover, where he complains about Madeleine Albright and troops in Saudi Arabia.
Ummm, Madeleine Albright? Am I missing something?
I loved it. Thanks so much for posting this!
Stephen Schwartz is Sufi. I believe, it’s rare today but quite possible to be Sufi and not Muslim, at least not in the sense of “mainstream” Islam like Shi’a or Sunni.
It’s been a long time since I have seen or heard him interviewed or read any of his articles (same with Bernard Lewis) but, of course, he understands the Middle East regional and religious mindset far better than the ex-CIA “Imperial Hubris” charlatan Michael Scheuer whose prescription for “victory” and US “Arab policy” is consistently wrong.
Thank you for posting an excellent article.
Only about a decade or so.... (smirk)
Osama’s “honorable mention” of Michael Scheuer and Noam Chomsky in his “video” :
Bush the ‘Best Ally’ of Bin Laden, Ahmadinejad, Professor Says
By Patrick Goodenough
CNSNews.com International Editor
September 11, 2007
(CNSNews.com) - President Bush is the “best ally” of Osama bin Laden and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, leftist MIT professor Noam Chomsky was quoted as telling one of Japan’s largest newspapers on Tuesday.
The newspaper, Mainichi Shimbun, published what it called an exclusive interview with Chomsky, to coincide with the sixth anniversary of al-Qaeda’s terrorist attacks on the United States.
In the interview, Chomsky argued that the Iraq war “significantly increased the threat of terror,” and he cited Michael Scheuer, a former CIA analyst and author of the book “Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror,” as calling Bush bin Laden’s main ally.
Chomsky later added, “just as Bush is Osama Bin Laden’s best ally, he is also Ahmadinejad’s best ally.” Washington’s “threats” against Iran had the anticipated effect of making the Iranian government “more harsh and verbal,” he said.
The interview was published four days after al-Qaeda released a video message from bin Laden in which the fugitive terrorist approvingly cited both Chomsky and Scheuer.
“This war [in Iraq] was entirely unnecessary,” bin Laden said in the video, according to the transcript released by the SITE Institute. “And among the most capable of those from your own side who speak to you on this topic and on the manufacturing of public opinion is Noam Chomsky, who spoke sober words of advice prior to the war, but the leader of Texas doesn’t like those who give advice.”
The al-Qaeda chief also urged those wanting to know the reasons why the West is “losing” the war to “read the book of Michael Scheuer.”
Elsewhere in the Mainichi interview, Chomsky is quoted as saying:
— That he had predicted directly after 9/11 that governments would use the attacks “as an excuse” to intensify repression.
— That the invasion of Iraq was a war crime.
— That the U.S. bombed Taliban-ruled Afghanistan after 9/11 despite having no real evidence at the time that the plot had been hatched in that country.
— That while Afghanistan today needs constructive help, including offers of alternatives to poppy cultivation by peasants, “what the West prefers to do is to bomb.”
— That “the United States is not a functioning democracy.”
— That the “first 9/11” wasn’t the al-Qaeda attack in 2001 but the Sept. 11, 1973 military coup that toppled Chile’s communist President Salvadore Allende. “The effect of the first 9/11 was incomparably worse than the second 9/11,” Chomsky says. “How come nobody talks about that? Well there is a simple reason. Because we were responsible for it.”
Democracy became a term of derision among neo-isolationists and believers in the realpolitik that had led to 9/11 - expressing a contempt few Americans of the past could ever have imagined hearing.
As was noted here on FR, President Bush avoided the term "democracy" for more than a year. He had the forethought at the time to push for "freedom" (not "democracy") for Iraq, recognizing--as bright people have for millenia, such as after Socrates got a taste of "democracy" (yum, tastes like hemlock!) right on up through the Federalist No. 10--that "democracy" is not necessarily a good thing if the majority of the people want to act badly.
Unfortunately, the caution was dropped by the Administration a bit too soon. But regardless, it's paranoia or ignorance that puts this on "neo-isolationists." But I guess that's typical for neocon anti-American Republic views.
But as I have said before, Nazi Germany had nothing directly to do with the Pearl Harbor attack on the U.S. by the Japanese in 1941.
But the USA did not declare war on Germany and Italy until after they declared war on the USA (December 10, 1941).
Rashid Ali was quickly overthrown, the 2003 U.S.-led intervention in Iraq may be viewed as a long-delayed settling of an account left over for more than six decades.
Bizarre stretch. How many other accounts does he picture are laying around unsettled that the US has to butt into? The USA had nothing to do with Iraq's attempt to break free from Britain's colonialism, and Gaylani was Prime Minister nearly a decade before WWII and the coup--it's very misleading to imply that this all is one big sweeping storyline. An alliance with the Soviets in WWII helped us to meet our goals, but it doesn't mean we were wanting to be communist. Likewise, Gaylani's goal wasn't to make Iraq Nazi.
What's next, tying in the Hundred Years War because--like Iraq--America fought Britain for its independence and sided with Britain's enemy? Sheesh.
Exit stategy? Bin Laden could behead himself for the world to see - that might work for me.