July 14, 2004

The $64,000 Question

Dan Drezner is asking the Big Question:

Would a spectacular terrorist attack that took place close to Election day help President Bush or Senator Kerry?

It's a critical question, particularly as I believe that al-Qaeda's leadership is fearful that people will begin to question their operational capabilities if they are unable to mount another attack on the U.S. homeland pre-November elections.

So, be assured, they are gonna try very hard to pull one off.

My answer to Dan's question is that an al-Q spectacular on the U.S. will have the predictable rally around the flag effect--except if it would not have occurred but for gross negligence by the Bushies.

BTW, gross negligence is not divining that the Towers were going to be felled pursuant to the August 6th, 2001 PDB or such.

Now if Maureen Dowd had the run of the August '01 PDB she doubtless would have immediately, amidst myriad ellipses and truncated passages, espied: Bin Ladin wanted to hijack...US aircraft to...attack...World Trade Center...with explosives..

But it's not that easy for the rest of us to connect the dots...

Back to Drezner's Q.

Why won't American voters react a la Madrid?

For one, note that part of the reason Aznar's party fell is that they were too quick out of the gates to categorically blame ETA. This angered the Spanish electorate that believed that the Spanish conservatives were trying to get a pass on the perils of their Iraq policy.

That won't be a factor stateside.

For another, we know it's not about Iraq.

When I was strolling around Union Square on 9/11--there were no troops in Iraq. Lotsa other people remember that too...

Also, and this is likely more controversial, I believe Americans have been less infected by the in vogue relativism prevalent over here in Euro-land (UBL and Bush two sides of the same, hyper-religious messianic coin).

To be sure, we have been deeply shamed by Abu Ghraib.

And we have doubtless killed many innocents through 'collateral damage' in places like southeastern Afghanistan and the Sunni Triangle in Iraq.

But, on the other hand, we haven't purposefully set out to slaughter as many innocents as possible in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And, if al-Qaeda kills, say, many hundreds of civilians in a big suburban mall in the coming months in the Heartland--Americans will be revolted and reminded of this elemental difference.

(Nor, in my view, have we engaged in military actions and collective punishment so severe, in aggregate effect, that the distinction between terror and so-called 'state' terror might have been persuasively hurled at us--though places like Fallujah are very close calls...)

Note too, incidentally, given such prospective large-scale carnage, the Bush administration's negligence would have to be gross. There would be too much anger at the mass killings for mere negligence to hurt Bush.

Kerry and Edwards would likely be making a strategic mistake to attack the Administration if it were merely negligent (I'm thinking about containerized cargo getting in with radioactive material, for instance, as opposed to a FUBAR intel failure where we missed myriad clues about an imminent attack--especially if inter-agency turf battles were found to have contributed to the sorry dropping of the ball).

Put differently, probably too much human trauma in the air to get into the partisan blame game on the basis of a mere negligence scenario alone.

So, all told, I think the majority view will be that the war on terror remains a noble, good fight--particularly in the aftermath of another spectacular.

We've fought it stupidly here and there--and I won't revisit all the errors here today.

But that aside, expect a terror attack in the U.S. (absence gross negligence), to benefit Bush vis-a-vis electoral politics.

What's the deeper paradox in all of this?

Al-Q wants Bush to stay in power.

Which is yet another reason they are very keen to attack before the election, in my view.

Bush, in UBL-think--given his more robust foreign policy and concrete purposeful view that al-Qaeda's catastrophic terrorism is an existential peril--is more likely to set off the civilizational clash that bin Laden is hoping for.

Does this mean the smarter ones among us should be voting Kerry to deny UBL this ostensible tactical victory?

No, not by a long shot.

More on why later.

UPDATE:

Why, as someone who supports the broad goals of the war on terror, would I therefore potentially advocate Bush in the face of my contention that UBL would want him in for another four years?

Two reasons:

1) The worst excesses of the Bush Administration (Rummy playing Secretary of State and Defense; Abu Ghraib; troop-lite 'shock and awe' 'transformationalist' crapola; hubris-ridden denigrations of allies (we don't need the Brits!) and the Turtle Bay crowd; etc etc are over; and

2) I'm far from convinced, at least at this stage, that Kerry will be a serious player on the global stage in terms of a vigorous, stolid, strategically sound and ambitious pursuit of vital American interests abroad.

So (stick with me here!) given 1 above--I think the 'civilizational clash' UBL wants will be staved off as Bush gets smarter (no more canines threatening Arab males please...or mock electrocutions with Klan-like head-gear prominently showcased for dramatic effect...)

At the same time, I believe Bush will be more relentless than Kerry in his pursuit of al-Qaeda and other terror actors globally. While also pursuing the war on terror, in a second term, in a manner that also notes that the color gray exists--not just black and white.

Does this make any sense?

That UBL probably wants Bush in again for four but, in my view, a Bush victory would be worse news for UBL than a Kerry victory?

I'm willing to be swayed.

Please comment away.

Posted by Gregory at July 14, 2004 12:42 AM
Comments

I think it depends on how long before the election the attack occurs. Obviously most of the talk lately has been focused on one occurring immediately before the election, so running with that, one immediately before the election (within days) would definitely help Bush, because a few days isn't long enough to figure out who is to blame. In the chaos that would ensue after a massive attack, the American people will rally around the president.

Given more time, however, the finger pointing will begin - it took quite a while after 9/11, but would happen more quickly the next time because it's already in progress. The window of national solidarity the next time will be very short. The more time goes by, the more I would think an attack would favor Kerry, because it would give the Dems a chance to get their line of attack in place (and time for it to become acceptable to go on the attack).

Posted by: Nicole Griffin at July 14, 2004 02:39 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think this is only partially right, and I've talked about this here. These days with the polarisation in the US electorate there would be many on the left who would see another direct attack on the US as it being brought on by George W. and it would cement their view that the war in Iraq was wrong. On the flip side many on the right would rally to the flag. So mostly it would just re-enforce views already held on both sides of the electorate, rather than shifting votes one way or the other.

Posted by: Simon at July 14, 2004 06:19 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Ooops, the link is http://simonworld.mu.nu/archives/034894.php

Posted by: Simon at July 14, 2004 06:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg:

You wheels fell off the wagon at the suggestion that AQ wants Bush to remain in power.

After a decade's worth of spawning during the Clinton administration, Bush has crimpled their style. They have to hide in the caves, glance over their shoulders, and scan the skies for Hellfire loaded UAVs.

Its harder to get a good Jihad groove goin' under such conditions.

Posted by: Capt America at July 14, 2004 07:47 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Simon is partly right. A big terrorist attack would energize both the left and right to vote, so it would mostly be a wash. However, some number (probably small but important in a close race) would use their vote to spite the terrorists. If they thought Al Qaeda wanted Kerry to win they would vote for Bush, and vice versa. So the question is not who Al Qaeda wants to win, but rather who the public thinks they want to win.

I suspect most people would believe AQ wanted Kerry to win, not because he would prosecute the war differently but because it would be a defeat for Bush and demonstrate their power to sway the outcome of a US election. I think Greg is way off base in thinking they want Bush to win. In the long run they are probably indifferent between US leaders, seeing pros and cons in each case. But they do want to show followers and sympathizers that they are an imporant force and not irrelevant, and the only thing that would do that would be a Bush loss in November.

Posted by: american in europe at July 14, 2004 09:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

These speculations about an election attack assume the terrorist to be mindless bomb throwers, something we should now know they are not. They don't want one candidate over another to win they want America to lose! Consider a strategy of attacks that would obviously benefit one candidate. Say attacks in urban areas of states that are characterised by rural republicans and urban democrats. Imagine a Bush win that was the obvious result of terrorism, now imagine evidence planted to implicate domestic terrorism. Why not? The 911 terrorist were primarily Saudis, an obvious attempt to hinder Saudi American cooperation.

Posted by: Bill at July 14, 2004 10:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Diving OBL's intentions are difficult, but my guess is that given the choice, he would prefer Kerry to win.

1. OBL seems to have been happy with his perception of the US as non-confrontational re: Somalia, the Cole, the Lebanese embassy, etc. He certainly doesn't seem to have been wishing - "curses, if only Clinton would attack me in retaliation for the Cole."

2. A defeat for GWB would be precieved as a win for OBL - like Castro, he's outlasted yet another enemy.

3. OBL's ultimate goal re: the US is most likely to get us out of the Middle East so that he can get on with the business of conquering it. Unless he thinks that it will take more pain to break the US, I think he'd think Kerry is more likely to engage in a pullout.

Posted by: J Mann at July 14, 2004 02:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think Greg is right about UBL wanting Bush's re-election. UBL had been hoping for a Soviet-style invasion of Afghanistan that aroused the faithful and provoked a widespread Islamist uprising against corrupt authoritarian regimes. The best evidence for this is the assassination of Massoud -- Osama knew the US was coming. But what he didn't expect is that rather than a grotesque over-reaction, he would get a small-scale recapture of urban areas led by a coaltion of Tajik and Uzbek warlords, ratified by the ex-King and papered over with a pro-West Pashtun President. So that has worked out relatively well, all things considered. There is no global jihad taking place in Afghanistan.

But then, Bush did something dumb. He invaded Iraq without a good plan and for the wrong reasons, and UBL got the propaganda bonanza he wanted. Everything may turn out okay in the end, because there probably will not be an Islamist takeover anywhere. But that doesn't mean that doing it the way Bush did was wise.

Posted by: praktike at July 14, 2004 03:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don't think another terrorist attack in the US (with the exception of some sort of catastrophic nuclear detonation) will have any effect on the election. To state the obvious, if you're a Bush hater, you'll say its his fault and you were voting for Kerry or Nader anyway. If you're a rally 'round the commander in chief type, Bush had your vote anyway. A very small percentage of undecided voters in battleground states will choose the President. Although I'm not a statistician or pollster, I'd say that among these voters, you'd have roughly the same split as to whether they blame or continue to support Bush in the event of a terrorist attack.

The more likely single event that will definitely affect the election and only in GWB's favor is if we capture or get proof of Bin Laden's death. Wasn't there that rumor that Kerry is intentionally playing down the "you couldn't get Bin Laden" meme for fear of an October surprise. I could see Kerry benefitting if it turns out that the few French troops in Afghanistan nab Bin Laden and Chirac makes us eat humble pie.

If any sort of election timed offensive is in the works, it will be in Iraq and similar to April. That seems to be where most of the jihadees are focusing their attention, and they're aware that the American public by and large feels it was a mistake to go in the first place. If that happens, watch for Kerry to make another one of his famed "flip-flops" and take a Howard Dean like position. Perhaps that's why Kerry is not saying anything of substance. Just biding his time, realizing that this election will turn on events largely outside of anyone's control.

Posted by: Daniel at July 15, 2004 01:35 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don't think there will be an assault on the US before the election. What's left of AQ command knows that Bush will come down hard on them.

Were Kerry to win, I think there will be an assault soon after his innauguration to test his reaction. If it is similar to Clinton's, ther will be more to come.

Posted by: ninya at July 16, 2004 01:03 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm convinced an attack on the US will occur prior to the election and potentially several days prior. My thoughts are an economic related attack that will hurt Bush - like knocking out major power grid towers - coordianted timing wise at a few properly selcted sites - will put much of the US without electrical power for some time. We saw what happened when the problem in Ohio occurred & how much of the East Coast and Canada were impacted. What would the financial impact and emotional impact be should a larger part of the power grid become inoperative concurently & people were out of work for a few days as a result. Would they than prefer Bush or Kerry especially when the press plays their version of who was at fault?

Posted by: chuck at July 16, 2004 01:31 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

i've deleted a couple OT topics on Wilson (there are PLENTY of other places on this site to comment on that).

I don't have any set "rules," and frankly don't have the time to enunciate them. At least right now.

But I will likely delete OT posts once in a while like just now. Especially when I'm particularly interested in the topic at hand and want a 'clean' line of commentary to better benefit from my reader's views.

OT musings will break up the pace, direction of the comments...etc etc

best
gd

Posted by: greg at July 16, 2004 01:41 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Bill - You said "They don't want one candidate over another to win they want America to lose!"

That is why UBL would want GWB to win - look at the infighting that has happened within our government, the rabid hatemongering between parties - I'd say he already has a good start on that. If he can take another 4 years of what he's had, that gives him 4 more years of watching us implode on our own.

In the end, at this point anymore, I don't care who wins, but it had better be one of the largest voter turn outs in history or all of the kvetching, finger pointing, lies, denials and so forth don't really mean anything.

There is absolutely no reason for anyone not to vote. Start asking people today if they are registered to vote and if they plan on voting. Tell them that you're not interested in which party they registered for, or who they plan to vote for - just that they plan to vote as its the most important thing they can do for national politics to to let their voice be heard through the ballot box. Standing on a soap box, typing on the net, pubblishing a newspaper is all fleeting, votes change the nation, not the moment. When people don't vote - America does lose - it dies a tiny death of wasted democracy, one unvoted ballot at a time.

Posted by: Headzero at July 16, 2004 01:49 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The idea that Al Qaeda would want Bush to continue in office (note, not OBL, who has been absent from view for longer than the WMD that everybody seems to agree doesn't exist and is, by that logic, surely dead)... that AQ would want Bush in office is mind-numbingly ... I'm sorry, I can't think of a way to sugarcoat this... stupid.

Al Qaeda's heyday was in the 1990's when Clinton let them run amuck and ummolested. They want someone who will bring back that era. The man who will do that is clearly the man whom the Vietnamese revere for helping them take over the South. That man is John Kerry.

Posted by: Reid at July 16, 2004 02:09 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I have to take issue with Osama wanting Bush to remain in office for the simple reason that Bush is insistent on democracy in the Middle East while Kerry is not.

The only way a "Caliphate" can come into existence is if Islam and Islamic rule can be imposed on people. And as we've seen in Iran (by way of the vast pro-democracy youth movement which can only be repressed by government coercion and violence) and as we are seeing in Iraq (where the people are overwhelmingly - according to the latest polls - against a religious government), the Caliphate will never be imposed in a truly democratic regime.

Kerry believes that an authoritarian government is OK in Iraq as long as he perceives it to be a relatively benign one. Bush - from day one - has made democracy and democratic reform a top priority in the Middle East. *That* is what Osama fears the most - it's not about the casualties, or the war, it's about the ideology...

Kerry's "as long as it's stable" policy for Iraq and other regimes in the Middle East is exactly the kind of policy under which a greater Caliphate becomes possible. His unwillingness to step in militarily also ensures that an expansionist regime would be much less likely to have an aggressive opponent with the military might to prevent that expansion.

Those who think that Osama would prefer Bush to stay in office look only at the short-term and fail to look to the longer term. Our intervention in Iraq has already caused the rumblings of democratic reform throughout the Middle East. The only hope for those rumblings to turn into a full-fledged earthquake is the continuation of a muscular U.S. policy to prevent a re-assertion of authoritarian rule in the region.

Osama and his ilk fear that earthquake above all else because it would mean the end of their futile dream, and Kerry doesn't even register on the Richter...That tells you all you need to know about who Osama is backing....

Posted by: Jim B at July 16, 2004 02:12 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm with Greg and "American in Europe" on this one. Whether or not AQ/UBL would be successful in establishing a Caliphate is not the point. The point is whether they think they could.

People are always waiting for the US to overreact to something and then get the mobs into the streets screaming for blood. AQ, I firmly believe, will try to do just this. My guess is a week before the elections, if not on election day itself. I'm not quite so sure that they actually have a presidential preference, as its the masses they want to enthrall.

But I'm very sure that they'd prefer Bush to Kerry as their best hope to bring Armaggedon.

Posted by: Hatcher at July 16, 2004 02:47 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

All these discussions about who UBL wants to win are absurd: they presuppose that the terror network has a single brain or single heart. The only real question we need to answer is: who has ideas which seem capable of killing this many-headed monster we have to deal with? Since, in my opinion, Kerry has NO ideas at all on this, Bush wins for me by default. As an extra bonus, the neo-con plan of destroying the cultural problems seems plausible as an approach. Unfortunately, I think that only a total restructing of the Arab, or, possibly, the entire Muslim world may be necessary. The restructuring I have in mind is not that Islam needs a new Luther in terms ot theses posted on a door, but in terms of Koran-in-the-vernacular, as a way to break the stranglehold that Arabic tribalism has on Islam.

Posted by: Oscar at July 16, 2004 02:47 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Enlightening discussion. My two cents:

1. The next big terrorist attack ON U.S. SOIL will cause all manner of Jacksonian hell to break loose among the electorate, leading to vigilantism and a larger war. No matter who is president, his (or her) hand will be forced.

2. Bin Laden wants Kerry to win. If Kerry does win, there will be a sort-of mini-terror attack against U.S. interests around Christmas to test Kerry's response.

Posted by: EO at July 16, 2004 02:48 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

There is a recent, very scary story over on WWS about terrorists going through dry runs of airline attacks. If true this points to attacks this summer. Any attack will steel American resolve and there will be a demand for overwhelming response. I think there is a general feeling, among many if not most Americans that we are not doing enough. Even those liberals who are against the war in Iraq. Many of my liberal (anti-war) friends were calling for us to Nuke Afg or Iran or another ME country immediately after 9/11.

Another large attack on US will prove devasting for the ME.

Posted by: Willy at July 16, 2004 02:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

To answer the exact question, I think that if there were an attack prior to the election, Bush would move in quickly, with decisive action, regardless of criticism by the liberal press. This would be perceived positively and the electorate would coalese behind him.

But I still think that the network is in disarray. A dud firework, maybe. But I still doubt even that. I think if they doubted Bush's resolve they would have attacked again since 9/11. They haven't done that.

I also think that OBL has been dead for a long time.

Posted by: ninya at July 16, 2004 03:00 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Has anyone but me thought about the possibility of holding Mecca hostage? Anything happens here, Islam's most holy city vanishes.

Posted by: Atilla at July 16, 2004 03:43 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think it might be more effective to put our sites on Damascus and Tehran. They're the ones that need to know that we're not going to accept failure in Iraq.

Posted by: ninya at July 16, 2004 04:04 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

is UBL dead? Or is he alive and still calling the shots? If alive, his greatest fear would be i think, freedom in the ME and he would concentrate on destroying the new gov in Iraq and his hottest target would be Allawi. If dead, then AQ has no head. Maybe that's why guys like Sadr and Zaquari are trying to rise to the top? What about this al Hardi guy who just surrendered to the Saudi's? He was sitting next to UBL in that tape we all saw right after 911. Why did he feel the need to surrender now? Because UBL is no longer around to help him?
As for Bush vs Kerry, I don't think it matters because 911 was planned before Bush got elected.
Just thought I'de pose a few questions.

Posted by: Mike N at July 16, 2004 05:11 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It doesn't matter who it helps.

If we have a spectacular attack and Senator Kerry wins, President Bush has two months left in office. The the war would be over before Senator Kerry is sworn in in January.

Posted by: John Davies at July 16, 2004 06:31 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Al Qaeda wants GWB dead, and I believe that their summer strike will be massive and chemical or nuclear and against him in NYC. That way, the get a two-fer. As for Kerry, the nation will not turn to him.

Posted by: Helen at July 16, 2004 07:25 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Al Qaeda wants GWB dead, and I believe that their summer strike will be massive and chemical or nuclear and against him in NYC. That way, they get a two-fer. As for Kerry, the nation will not turn to him.

Posted by: Helen at July 16, 2004 07:25 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm afraid any attack would benefit J Effin' K. From all I'm hearing, folks would be quite happy to blame any attack on Bush's War and pretend 9-11 was not related. They'll be able to do this because AQ won't be directly linked to the attack. That allows the Left to claim Bush brought this on us, a major PR victory for AQ.

What's more, there are many people who are tired of all this and would like to go back to the way things used to be. When we had friends among our allies, and all that crap.

Posted by: spongeworthy at July 16, 2004 02:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

For the record, I love ninya's idea of holding Mecca hostage just to prove a point. Although that would piss off too many folks, but I like the out of the box thinking.

AQ needs to launch something soon otherwise what has become of them? Last I checked they went from 9/11 success, to looking like two bit Drug Dealers kidnapping and beheading people. So why not kill two birds with one stone and have it disrupt the election. ( this may be a mute point- considering the operational capability levels pre 9/11- and it still took 5years to execute- just think what bad it is now)

As for who would benefit, I think GWB would, although logically that makes no sense to me. If a security company I hired failed me miserably 2 times in 4 years why would I re-hire them?

Posted by: Middle American at July 16, 2004 03:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think another attack, God forbid, will unify the country behind the President. Do not underestimate America's ability to get enraged and call for a liitle payback. It happened after Pearl Harbor. It happened after 9/11. It will happen with the next attack.

With Bush, everyone can agree that payback is a proven thing. Kerry's whole campaign survives on nothing but Bush-hate. However, even the liberals know that Kerry hasn't demonstrated the ability to take a stand on anything.

The fingerpointing and selfblame crap will only happen after a national cooldown, when the left thinks it's safe to be partisan again (which would be after the election). How long that lasts will be directly related to how bad the attack is - Not to mention, if New York gets another bad dose, the NYT may be out of commission. Without its east coast back-up, no one will care what the LA Times has to say.

And no, I don't believe that UBL or anyone in AQ wants Bush to win. It's easier to flourish when you are not getting shot at every which way. Bush has not only pursued AQ, but has managed to get other Islamic countries to pursue them as well (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, and now Saudi Arabia to some extent), which is probably NOT what AQ had in mind, especially in terms of their "mass confrontation" goal.

I wonder if we shouldn't just figure out how AQ communicates operationally and mimic it on a grand scale in order to draw confused cells out into the open and to start an ideological "turf-war" between wanna-be UBLs. Let the hydra eat parts of itself while we destroy the rest.

And for the record, you may chose to ignore sarin shells as a WMD for the sake of the anti-Iraq Invasion argument, but I think you would change your mind if a sarin gas attack say, saturates downtown NY.

Posted by: Strat at July 16, 2004 04:08 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

No offense, but I think y'all've been watching too many movies. Lest we forget: OBL and his buddies aren't evil geniuses of the type we see on TV. They don't sit around gaming out the results of various actions; or, if they do their judgements during those games are laughably stupid.

To review:
1. OBL and friends thought a single car bomb would bring down the WTC.
2. OBL and friends thought losing the WTC would somehow be a crippling blow to the USA.
3. OBL and friends thought we would never, ever dare strike them meaningfullly in Afghanistan.
4. OBL and friends continue to think that terrorism can and will lay the US low.

All of those conclusions were outrageous, but sounded reasonable to OBL and his advisors, all of whom are blinded by their hatred of the US. Any talk of their plans wrt the US election must take into account their hatred and stupidity; the idea that they are cunningly guessing and second-guessing the results of various courses of action is probably incorrect.

They'll hit us as hard as they can, as soon as they can, without regard to the consequences. That's what they always do.

Posted by: Brian at July 16, 2004 05:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Regardless of who wins in November, you can count on whoever's in charge of aQ propaganda spinning the outcome to make it appear that that's the result they wanted all along. I'll bet they've even already prepared two different statements to be published shortly after Election Day - one for a Bush win, the other for Kerry.

As for a pre-election attack on U.S. soil, here's how I see it: Even if aQ does manage to pull off such an attack, its impact on the election would be a toss-up for reasons already posted here by others. If, on the other hand, they attempt an attack but are foiled, it would almost certainly give Dubya a big boost. (If they favor Kerry, I don't see anything they could do that would definitely influence the election in his favor.)

By this line of reasoning, regardless of whom aQ might say they want to win the election, I would conclude that if they don't attempt an attack between now and Election Day, that probably means they either favor Kerry or have no preference. If they do attempt one, that probably means they favor Bush. If aQ does indeed favor Bush, I wouldn't put it past them to plan an attack but then purposely sabotage it (say, by having someone tip off the authorities at the 11th hour) to help Bush's re-election bid.

Posted by: Joshua at July 16, 2004 06:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'd be interested to see how AQ spun a GWB win as a victory for themselves. Maybe something like this: "Ha, ha! You sons of apes and pigs. We duped you into re-electing the criminal Bush.

"Now, unfettered by electoral restraints, he will surely fall into our trap and disrupt our finances around the world, hunt us down, kill or capture many of our spiritual leaders, disrupt our finances and interupt our holy operations against the oppressive shopping malls and theme parks. Did I mention disrupt our finances?

"Without finances we cannot afford al-Jazeera journalists and so must sit alone in our caves without even the benefit of adoring media exposure. This will cause us to seethe a mighty seethe wherein we will surely rise up in righteous anger, replace the martyred Osama, and lay waste to the land of the infidel. Let your shopping malls beware!"

Posted by: L N M at July 16, 2004 09:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think it depends entirely on Kerry. If he exploits it outright, people will think it shameful. If he very subtley brings people together he could win. But I don't think that the Spainish style moveon.org/gore insanity anger will capture the country after a crisis.

Posted by: Jason at July 17, 2004 01:42 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The idea that the Aznar government misled the Spanish people over the Madrid bombings, while having some foundation in truth, was all too readily seized upon by most European commentators, to mask a more unpalatable truth (that Al Quaeda were allowed to decide the result of the election).

Even here in the UK, the same thinking is evident. Greg rightly highlighted the point in Tony Blair's speech, that was also made in the Butler report, that :

'.. prior to the war the Iraqi regime:
a. Had the strategic intention of resuming the pursuit of prohibited weapons programmes, including if possible its nuclear weapons programme, when United Nations inspection regimes were relaxed and sanctions were eroded or lifted.' (para 474).

But, in all the media reports of the Prime Minister 'misleading' people or 'losing credibility', this was barely mentioned. It seems as if we in Europe are drifting more and more into self-deception, a denial of reality. We need more than ever thinkers and writers with Orwell's clarity of vision and honesty.

Saturday's FT magazine had a feature on Zapatero. Even John Lloyd, in his cover letter, seemed to buy the 'Madrid myth'.

Zapatero might never have got what he demanded by the end of June - troops under UN control - but we did get an Iraqi government with some control over foreign troops. One quote to explain the haste of his decision : "So he acted before he could betray his own promise". I must say, though, that I really like what I hear about Zapatero, apart from Iraq.

Posted by: DavidP at July 19, 2004 09:48 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

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Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Magic http://books.lowcost.us.com/list_3017/Books_Childrens_Books_Literature_Science_Fiction_Fantasy_Mystery_Horror_Science_Fiction_Fantasy_Magic.php

Posted by: Staff Favorites at October 6, 2004 04:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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