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October 29, 2006



Long time no read. I don't use trackbacks anymore due to spambots. So here's a link quoting you on my latest:

Vote Democrat. You owe it to the Iraqi people


I believe you give Al-Qaeda too much credit in terms of understanding US off-year elections. This election is for control of congress not to elect a president. Even if the Dems win not much will change in terms of Iraq right away. The real goal of Al Qaeda was to foment revolt in Saudi Arabia and topple the House of Saud. That goal failed, as did every other attempt to undermine all the other Arab states, such as Egypt, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Al Qaeda is a miserable failure. The only win Al Qaeda has is Bush using them as cover for his ambitions in the Middle East. 9/11 was Bin Laden's "hail Mary pass"; if that failed he was through. Contrary to popular belief 9/11 shows just how inept the Bush administration is in terms of National Defense. 9/11 should never have happened. If either Bush or Rice had been on the ball or marginally competent 9/11 could have been prevented and would have been one more Al Qaeda failure.

Think of it this way, If Al Gore had won the Supreme Court vote and had been elected President by one vote and somehow was out of the Solar system for 8 months and did not get any of the intel that Bush got on "Al Qaeda determined to attack the US" and because of that 19 Arabs flew planes into three buildings killing 3,000 people do you think that the Republicans would have cut him one atom of slack? Ever? 9/11 happened on GWB’s watch, and he was on the planet, it should never have happened, your leader did not protect you.

Lee A. Arnold

Marc, this is a very weird document. It strikes me as false, perhaps planted. If it is true, then you are right: al-Qaeda misunderstands what is happening. Perhaps their religious messianism has finally overcome any sense of military reality? Could this be from a U.S. Republican campaign operative instead, writing in Arabic?!

After all, the U.S. has NOT been seriously weakened, certainly not in a military sense, nor even in terms of its public morale. The people of the United States are NOT giving-up on the general problem, nor, despite much whining in the conservative press, is there any evidence of that.

It is true that most people in the U.S. now understand that it can't win with the current strategy in Iraq, and distrust the White House's knowledge and competence. And most people are beginning to get the sense, even if it is just an emotional sense, that the U.S. has to take its next steps with regard for the feelings and opinions of the larger Arab public it has been alienating.

But even a total "withdrawal" will merely be a redeployment to within the same neighborhood. The U.S. build-up in the Gulf is probably not to attack Iran (an action which has no clear objective) but rather to prevent Iran from invading Iraq.

On the other hand, al-Qaeda is a Sunni organization, is it not? They aren't going to win much in Iraq, unless they suddenly become friends with, and indeed take orders from, the Shia or the Kurds. So al-Qaeda won't even come out of it with much of the oil resource. And the real event which might aid the cause of al-Qaeda -- i.e., a general regional conflagration -- is possible but unlikely, if the U.S. takes some care in what it does next.

Therefore, al-Qaeda's main strategic problem appears to be insurmountable. It is a classic Maoist guerrilla-war strategy, but it is spread across borders, beliefs, and sects. This part of the guerrilla-war strategy calls upon them to gain recruits, but not everyone wants to join. They can weak havoc by getting hold of WMD's, but as soon as they take any step to form a salient structure, they can be annihilated.


RG - my point wasn't to say whether or not the author got American electoral politics right... just to show how he did understand it. I think that the author vastly over-estimates al-Qaeda's influence on American politics - there's a whole discussion which I didn't translate about the awesome responsibility al-Qaeda has right now in determining the fate of American politics. But those delusions of grandeur are themselves important for understanding how al-Qaeda might act with regard to the elections, if that is indeed how the AQ leadership understands itself.


RG said:

"That goal failed, as did every other attempt to undermine all the other Arab states, such as Egypt, Pakistan, and Afghanistan."

Uh... it worked in afghanistan for a long time before we responded to 9/11. and Pakistan is not an arab state. Furthermore, their goal is to fight US-controlled regimes in muslim countries (Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia all fall into this category). Not "all the ... arab states" as you imply.

Lee said:
"certainly not in a military sense"

Actually.... I think you should have said "certainly not in an economic sense". We can afford this war easily. Right now it looks like it might be 1.5% of GDP. That's nothing, especially for a country as wealthy as ours.

The military cost, however, is palpable, and I'm amazed that you just brush it off the way you did... Militarily we have lost opportunities to credibly threaten North Korea, do anything about Darfur, and provided a local target for (as well as lost military credibility when dealing with) Iran. The Army has significantly lowered it's standards regarding aptitude, age, and fitness just to meet (now lowered) recruiting goals. We are chewing up equipment that will take time to refurbish or replace. We have let Afghanistan devolve (ostensibly due to lack of resources...if we are so mighty militarily, why aren't we sending more troops to afghanistan?).

The assertion that we haven't been militarily weakened due to Iraq is absurd on its face, and requires some serious denial of fact.

All you have to do is remember Katrina to realize that our National guard is severely weakened.

As for Queda wanting us to stay in Iraq... of course they want us to stay. In the minds of Muslims, we are simply validating further, with each day that we stay, Osama's proclamations that the US wishes to occupy muslim lands and subdue their peoples. I'm not saying that is our intention, but our actions can only be percieved that way by many muslims around the world. Even the moderate ones.


I think some of the comments just reflect the fact that we don't get to read a lot of these kinds of things, so we don't have a lot of context. This kind of thing needs to be demystified. Good post and I'd like to see more.


I believe that they (al-Qaeda) will be quiet. They would be hoping that the Republicans lose control of Congress (better if both Senate and House, but one will do), then they would do the dirtiest deed that would compel us to stay in Iraq, at least until and through the 2008 political season. This would allow them to demonstrate to the world, and more importantly to the American people of the limit or impotence of our military and economic power.

During this same period of time Iran and North Korea will be doing exactly what they have been doing, this would demonstrates to the whole world for everyone to see who the paper tiger is.

By end of 2008 the American people would be angry beyond belief (to the point of madness with fustration) and a lot poorer - I feel that we as a nation would be in a state of frenzy to the point of being willing to give up even more of our liberties with the expectation that we would (this time) prevail.

If I am correct in my 'what if' we will defeat ourselves. Our economic status would be that of a 2nd rate nation, our military power would still be formidable but only for a defensive purpose as we would not have the economic means (logistical) to wage war.

Check and Mate

Lee A. Arnold

ME, perhaps I should have written, "in a long-term military sense." I did not mean to imply that the U.S. forces are not temporarily depleted, and that we have lost some of the finest people ever. On the other hand, we never had much real opportunity to credibly threaten North Korea; invasion was never an option.


Lee: "Our finest people?" Are you saying that the people who brought mass death and destruction to Iraq blindly obeying orders are "our finest people"? Presumably you refer to army members as our finest people because of their "courage." But the nonvirtuous is as capable as the virtuous of displaying courage in some particular area.

In short, members of the American military who blindly accepted American supremacy rather than refusing to fight this illegal and immoral war in Iraq are nothing more than stooges for imperialism, and are just as morally culpable as Bush. I really don't understand this absurd attachment people have to "our" soldiers, which really boils down to people approving of and glorifying the military man's behavior because "he is one of us".

The hard truth that many people don't want to accept is that we are fighting for nothing in Iraq, not in the sense of not having some distant goal in mind but in the sense that we are achieving nothing and fueling violence merely by being present. Our men and women are dying in Iraq for nothing. But I'm not concerned about this: they shouldn't be there in the first place. What I AM concerned about is the fate of the Iraqis, who never asked to be occupied.



We can afford this war easily. Right now it looks like it might be 1.5% of GDP. That's nothing, especially for a country as wealthy as ours.

Um, what? The GDP isn't a slush fund of surplus cash; it's not like we have the other 98.5% GDP at our disposal. And come on, 1.5% isn't much? Addressing global climate change would cost an estimated 1% but Bush says that's too much of a risk to the economy. Also, simply mathematically, the more wealthy we are, the more atrocious a waste 1.5% GDP is.

Lee A. Arnold

Not merely the courage, which is considerable, but the straightforward honesty of those I have met. Mike, it is possible to be against the war, as I am, and like the soldiers. I know some advance reconnaissance fighters, which is a pretty dangerous business, and they are easily among the best and most honorable people I have ever had the pleasure to know. It pains me that they were thrown into it. But I don't blame them for this horror. People who join the military do what they are told to do. That's their job. In another circumstance, we are glad they do it. Those who are against it, if they refused to fight, would be courtmartialed. Some have done so. What most do instead is avoid return duty, if they can. What we should do, is make a world where what they do never seems to be necessary.

Tom Scudder

Off topic, but Al Jazeera International has finally announced an official start date (November 15).

Tom Scudder

link for the al jazeera announcement

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