On 27 October 2010, Al-Jazirah Television broadcast a new audiotape by Osama bin Laden meant to exploit the Muslim world’s growing anger toward France specifically, and against Europe generally. Defending the recent kidnapping of five French nationals in Niger, bin Laden said the action was an appropriate response to France’s ongoing intervention in the affairs of Muslims in North and West Africa; its persecution of Muslim women in France via its ban on burqa wearing; and the presence of nearly 4,000 French troops in Afghanistan. Bin Laden warned Paris it is foolish to think that France’s anti-Muslim actions will go unanswered by al-Qaeda and other mujahideen. “The equation is very clear and simple,” bin Laden said, stressing, as he always does, the justice of reciprocal treatment in wartime, “the fault lies with the one who initiates [the hostilities] … as you kill, you will be killed; as you abduct, so shall you be abducted; as you ruin our [Muslim] security, so shall we ruin your security.”
Have you noticed that with ten days to go until the mid-term elections everything is coming up roses in Afghanistan? Yes, on the eve of the vote, General Petraeus’s Afghan surge is suddenly and magically producing positive results. He and other senior U.S. and NATO officials are pumping out stories about: “We know bin Laden is living in a house and is not on the run;” the “success of drone strikes;” “promising peace negotiations” with the Taliban; and the “unstoppable Kandahar offensive.”
Since publication of Bob Woodward’s Obama’s Wars the pro-Obama media have claimed U.S. generals “boxed in” the president in terms of sending additional troops to Afghanistan. Neil Sheehan (washingtonpost.com, 3 October 10), Tom Ricks (foreignpolicy.com, 4 October 10), and Melvin Goodman (consortiumnews, 5 October 10) have all portrayed poor ol’ Barack as being surrounded by big bad generals who want to continue the Afghan war on an ever larger scale. On the basis of what actually is in Woodward’s book, this is nonsense. Indeed, Woodward amply demonstrates that Obama bases his Afghan policy on what is good for his political fortunes, and that his concern for U.S. lives and security is nil.
Last evening I finished reading Bob Woodward’s new book Obama’s Wars, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2010). Woodward’s book is very similar to the first of his trilogy on the Bush administration’s reaction to 9/11, Bush at War, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2002). Each books underscores the utter sameness and ignorance of Democrats and Republicans in regard to the war being waged on the United States by increasing numbers of Islamist fighters at home and abroad. Read Woodward’s Bush and Obama books and two things become immediately obvious.
Because public discussion about Afghanistan is heated in the wake of another corrupt Afghan parliamentary election, as well as because of rising U.S.-NATO casualties and the start of General Petreaus’s long-delayed Kandahar “offensive,” I have posted below a talk that I recently delivered. The talk deals with how al-Qaeda’s role in the Taliban’s war against the U.S.-led coalition has shifted from mostly combat to mostly support since 2006-2007. It argues that the smaller role al-Qaeda now plays is as vital as the larger role it played earlier, and that it is, indeed, more dangerous to the United States and its European allies both inside Afghanistan and externally.
On 12 September 2010, the Washington Post published a much-discussed and highly praised OpEd by former ABC journalist Ted Koppel. The gist of the article is that Washington’s response to 9/11 amounted to playing into bin Laden’s hands. Well, no kidding.
A number of items over past week caught my attention, and, being a bear-of-little-brain, they added to my confusion about why those brilliant folks who lead us seem so many times to have even less brains than I do.
I started out to write a piece about the whole of President Obama’s predictable and deceitful speech last night about Iraq. On reflecting a bit more, however, I came to focus on the president’s phrase: “It is time to turn the page on Iraq,” a phrase which underscores how woefully ignorant Obama and his colleagues in both parties are about the power of history and the world that exists outside of their closed minds and Washington, D.C.
Fourteen years ago this morning, 27 August 1996, I found myself reading a just-published document by Osama bin Laden entitled “Declaration of War Against the United States.” In the 12-page treatise bin Laden announced al-Qaeda’s intention to wage war on the United States and summarized its motivation in six items:
The politicians and media continue to spew and sputter about the NYC mosque, with much of their commentary now turning to ask: ’Why are Americans so fearful of and hateful toward Islam and Muslims?” The obvious answer is that Americans are so fearful of and hateful toward Islam and Muslims because their leading politicians and the media have taught them to be.