Thursday, July 26, 2007

Salon Writer Fooled By New Bin Laden Tape

Well... the new OLD Bin Laden tape, really..

Juan Cole wrote in Salon on July 24th that "Bush's incompetence gives al-Qaida new life."

His premise:

But the very fact that bin Laden could still deliver his poisonous message to the Muslim world six years after his attack on New York and Washington killed some 3,000 people is first and foremost a remarkable testament to the incompetence and fecklessness of the Bush administration. The tape, the new NIE and events in Pakistan and Afghanistan all suggest that, shockingly, al-Qaida is more deadly now than at any time during the past half-decade.

At first glance, Cole's argument may sound vaguely convincing. However, when in fact anyone paying even the slightest attention to al Qaeda-related terrorism news puts their thinking-caps on, we discover a problem:

1) As documented thoroughly at Hot Air, and all over the Blogosphere, the "latest" Osama video is actually a re-cut of a video that was released in 2001.

That's point number one shot down for Mr. Cole.

2) Regarding the new NIE, which characterized al Qaeda as stronger than last year, In From The Cold Blogger wrote:

- Only a small amount of new information was present in the new report
- Most of the report remains classified
- The bulk of the "new information relates to al Qaeda's successful efforts to reestablish safehavens along the Afghan-Pakistani border."
- The "primary reason" for al Qaeda's resurgence "has nothing to do with the War in Iraq, or domestic security measures in the United States. As the draft assessment indicates, Al Qaida's reconstitution along the PakistanAfghan border is a direct result of the disastrous "Waziristan Accords," signed last year between the Islamabad government and pro Al Qaida groups in the western tribal lands. Implementation of those agreements further eroded Pakistani authority in the region, and allowed terrorists to rebuild the training, support and administrative infrastructure that once existed in neighboring Afghanistan."

That's point nubmer two shot down. So much for Cole's thesis. Now... regarding Pakistan, what are Cole's thoughts? He begins by dryly noting:

And now the U.S. seems to be thinking about operating in the same area...

But typically, as for fighting AQ in Pakistan - He's against it:

In the best of times, hunting down an individual in Pakistan's tribal areas would be rather like trying to find a person moving among safe houses in Wyoming, Colorado and Nevada. The current unrest would only make the job of any U.S. Special Forces operating in the region that much harder. But the de facto American threat to invade Pakistan also brought an alarmed reaction from the Musharraf regime. On CNN, Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri angrily pointed out that Pakistan had sacrificed 700 troops to the fight against extremists in the tribal areas. He warned that any U.S. incursion would enrage the Pakistani public and defeat any hope of Washington winning local hearts and minds.

And while he opposes taking action on al Qaeda in Pakistan, Cole simultaneously admonishes the Bush Administration:

Astonishingly, al-Qaida may be back, and the signs of its resurgence are everywhere, but there is little reaction from an American public that has everything to fear from the group. War-weary, bogged down in a fruitless guerrilla war in Iraq, disillusioned with the Bush team (which has lied to it assiduously), the public appears to be taking its eye off al-Qaida. If so, it would be making the same mistake as Bush, who is obsessed with Iraq to the detriment of urgent counterterrorism measures.

So, in other words... Bush is obsessed with Iraq, which is why al Qaeda has proliferated... but we shouldn't attack in Pakistan, where they are strongest? That makes a lot of sense.

This episode will be noted as yet another in a long line of scathing critiques of President Bush's war on terror, from a source with a tepid understanding of the situation who views his dogmatic liberal doctrine through an incomprehensible prism, which solves absolutely nothing.

No wonder, as Pat Dollard notes - For Democrats, The War In Iraq Has Little Or Nothing To Do With Defeating Al Qaeda.

Because if it did, how could they argue for withdrawal?
Update: The Astute Bloggers weigh in, and note that this is not the first time Juan Cole, (a Professor of Modern Middle East and South Asian History in the History Department at the University of Michigan) has gotten his facts wrong.


Anonymous said...

I'd say that your first clue that the writer is easily fooled is his identity - Juan Cole. Does anybody listen to what he has to say anymore?

Nick Brunetti-Lihach said...

You're right... I almost wanted to believe it was a coincidence.

Silly me.