Thursday, October 28, 2004

Not with a Bang . . .

. . . but with a whimper. As new details emerge concerning the al Qaeda videotape ABC has been sitting on since last weekend, I find myself asking: Yes, but what does it all MEAN? To me, it betrays a not insignificant level of desperation. After all, when the savages wanted to disrupt the Spanish elections and throw the vote to the political party it knew could be counted on to retreat, al Qaeda mounted a so-called 'operation' -- the Madrid bombing. Surely, the savages would do the same thing here, if, that is, they could.

I have spoken with some people who suggest that an attack is unlikely because al Qaeda understands that an attack would likely benefit Bush-Cheney. This is not an illogical supposition, especially in view of lop-sided polling on the issues of which candidate is more trusted to fight the GWoT, is better suited to take the fight to our enemies and just plain stronger in the face of modern threats. But, by that same logic, al Qaeda would not have bothered to release this threat. Rather, al Qaeda would have lain low until after the election, lending currency to the mewling crowd who contend "there is no terrorist threat." Simply put, John Kerry is best served by a world that remains calm -- a world in which the threat of catastrophic terror recedes to the horizon, obscured by more pressing day-to-day domestic issues and a focus on the War in Iraq (as artfully, if untruthfully, distinguished from the "Battle of Iraq").

No. al Qaeda has now chosen to bring itself to the fore in this election. But, in doing so in words and not deeds, al Qaeda betrays its weakness. If it believes the American people can be cowed, then, if it could, it would have attempted to cow us as it did Spain. 3-and-a-half years into a relentless assault on its leadership, its footsoldiers, its finances and its sympathizers, all it is left with is a hollow sabre-rattling diatribe. The fact that the diatribe is delivered by an American-born savage (or one posing as such) is, to me, further evidence of incapacity -- a need to wrap its pathetic threats within a heavy-handed symbolism: "What do you think Akbar? Will it be a bit more scary if an American delivers the message? Let's have Azzam the Idiot do it, that will shake them up."

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe al Qaeda does have the capacity to unleash a horror of epic proportions. Maybe this is a prelude to tragedy. I don't know for certain. But I do think al Qaeda's decision to release this tape suggests it is incrementally less likely that it has such a capacity. As they say, those who can, do. Those who can't release hystrionic video tapes threatening to do so in the future.