December 28, 2004

Liberal Bewilderment

Juan Cole detects that we're winning in the fight against bin Laden:

It appears that Bin Laden is so weak now that he is forced to play to his own base, of Saudi and Salafi jihadists, some of whom are volunteer guerrillas in Iraq. They are the only ones in Iraq who would be happy to see this particular videotape.

The only way Bin Laden could profit from this intervention in the least would be if a civil war between Sunni Arabs and Shiites really did break out in Iraq, and if the beleaguered Sunnis went over to al-Qaeda in large numbers. Since the Sunni Arabs are a minority of 20%, they and he would still lose, but for Bin Laden, who is now a refugee and without any strong political base outside a few provinces of Saudi Arabia, to pick up 5 million Iraqi Sunni Arabs, would be a major political victory. His recent videotape calling for the overthrow of the Saudi government suggests that he might hope to use any increased popularity in Anbar province as a springboard for renewed attacks on Saudi Arabia, especially on its petroleum sector.

It is a desperate, crackpot hope. The narrow, sectarian and politically unskilfull character of this speech is the most hopeful sign I have seen in some time that al-Qaeda is a doomed political force, a mere Baader-Meinhof Gang or Red Army Faction with greater geographical reach.

It's not a bad analysis as far as it goes but it sits there screaming the question what caused this weakness? Prof. Cole's description of US action clearly shows how we couldn't be the cause of it so what happened? This is the face of modern liberal bewilderment. You critique US action time and again, showing how we're constantly on the verge of a new Vietnam, Tet, Somalia, Beirut, or other ignominious failure and then... somehow... there is a magic step and the US wins again. It has to be very puzzling, especially for someone like Prof. Cole who can read the relevant languages in the ME.

Posted by TMLutas at December 28, 2004 04:06 PM