Thursday, April 15, 2004

Preaching to the choir, bin Ladin audio tape

Anyone remember how Fareed Zakaria along with a slew of others were sneering at how weak Alqueda had become because of the relative ineffectualness of its Turkey, Saudi Arabia, etc. bombing campaigns? These campaigns killed mostly Muslims and had a huge PR backlash in the Arab community. Give thanks to Bush, Sharon, and the confused Spainards for rejuvanating bin-Ladin's image.

When M-11 and the fall of Aznar's government came while unforeseeable by the terrorists it certainly proved provident. It made all those commentators arguing that Alqueda was "on the ropes," look insipidly stupid.

Now, the conquer and divide bit in the audio tape calling for a "truce" was crude, ham handed, and completely insincere (via Dan Drezner). However it was also good theartre. Now you see bin Ladin playing his hand as threatening the West, and forcing them to publicly deny any such collusion instead of just treating it as laughable as would have happened before 3-11 in Madrid.

This then comes out at the very same time just abouts when the US is having a PR disaster in Fallujah in the Arab press, and Bush is giving Sharon everything he could dream of practically on Palestine. If you don't think Fallujah is having a very bad affect for our moral authority, consider Odom former NSA director under Reagan say how being in Iraq is pretty much were bin Ladin wants us.


Bin Ladin is playing to the Arab Press, regaining a lot of lost legitimacy and street cred, and you can just bet that with the surge in activity we have multiple Alqueda franchise cells working on different fronts to try to produce another spectacular that bin Ladin and al-Zawahiri can gloat and boast about to take credit.

Let's face facts. Spain set us all back, and the damage is only beginning to be calculated. Iraq is digging us even deeper into the hole. Sharon fair portends to bury us. (NYT)

JERUSALEM, April 14 — By throwing his support on Wednesday behind an Israeli plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, President Bush provided diplomatic assurances that represented a victory for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Mr. Sharon wanted three commitments: backing for the Gaza withdrawal, American recognition that Israel would hold on to parts of the West Bank, and an American rejection of the right of millions of Palestinian refugees from the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 and their descendants to return to their lands in what is now Israel. He got them all by promising to trade something Israelis overwhelmingly do not want any more: the Gaza settlements and a handful of settlements in the West Bank. And he got them without having to negotiate with the Palestinians.

Palestinian officials knew that Israel strongly opposed yielding the whole West Bank or accepting the "right of return," and they had explored compromises in the past. But they relied on both demands as formidable negotiating levers. Mr. Bush has now moved to pluck both from their hands.

"Imagine if Palestinians said, `O.K., we give California to Canada,' " said Michael Tarazi, a legal adviser for the Palestine Liberation Organization. "Americans should stop wondering why they have so little credibility in the Middle East."

For the first time in American diplomacy in the Middle East, Mr. Bush announced that major Jewish settlements on the West Bank had achieved the status they aimed for: rooted "facts on the ground," or, as Mr. Bush called them, "already existing major Israeli population centers." The innovative, though risky, element in Mr. Sharon's strategy was to trade his concessions in Gaza and the West Bank not to the Palestinians as part of a negotiated agreement but to the Americans, over outraged Palestinian opposition.
[emphasis added]

While I've maintained that the military is not overstretched in general, I have to admit that the specific kinds of units being deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan are being severely over-tasked. Listen to Barry McCaffrey and you'll hear he comes to the same conclusion. Then again, Mc Caffrey praises "Death-squad" Negroponte.

Personally as a conservative, I don't think there's anything wrong with having some expertise in setting up and running counter-insurgency squads. Could come in handy as a skill. Being seen to do it in such a gratuitously brutal and loose cannon way as Negroponte carried it out and then to get caught denying it incompetently (NYT via Spleen) and so breaching Plausible Deniability is however a recommendation for a pink slip. Being a psychopath does not overcome the flaw of being an incompetent.

This kind of ham-handedness in combination with the selling out of the "two-state" solution proposed by our own Commander and Chief such a short while ago all for a few percentage points in the polls is building up a systematically catastrophic burden of mistakes adding up to a coming Unforgiving Minute - the moment when it all goes wrong and you can't turn back the clock for any price however dear. Only a moron hires a born loser for a must-win job.

UBL is on a PR roll however, and we can't deny that however much we naturally want to. If there's another spectacular in the works (see the French Connection via Winds of Change blog) and it comes through, we can count on his star rising and our fortunes suffering a great blow.


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