Monday, September 10, 2007

A lesson

A lesson, that is, in how to miss the obvious.

Just days after Osama bin Laden released a video tape - his first since 2004 - White House aide Frances Fragos Townsend went on two Sunday talk shows to call him "virtually impotent." She was, AP said in its lede, "seemingly taunting" bin Laden. While some will equate (in fact, some have already equated) this with Bush's infamous "bring it on," I call bullshit.

This wasn't "taunting" of bin Laden, it was an attempt to outflank the chorus of "Hey, yeah, why is he still around?" that sprang up in response to the video, to silence the "get him dead or alive" reminders beginning to rise. The White House wants to insist he's not worth worrying about. Notice that when Bush commented on it, he said it was proof that it's a dangerous world but never mentioned bin Laden by name. By failing to see this, the media and through them the public are being gamed yet again.

But I have to add that in one sense, the White House is right: I don't think bin Laden himself is particularly important except as a symbol and in that role a dead martyr can serve every bit as well as a live leader. In response to the capture of Saddam Hussein in December 2003, I said, against conventional wisdom of the time, that
I don't believe it will really change things on the ground in Iraq, either politically or in terms of security, except perhaps in the short run.
I feel safe in saying that the only part of that which has proved wrong is the last phrase: It didn't matter even in the short run. I feel the same way about bin Laden now as I did about Saddam then, that he is an evil man who has overseen mass murder and should take his place in the dock, but his capture or death would make very little, if any, difference. Someone would take his place and I fully expect a slew of "bin Laden Brigades" would pop up.

So I'm a little dismayed at what I think is emotional overinvestment among the left in bin Laden's status as a fugitive, as if he is the key to the entire threat of terrorism - and yes, there is a threat, even as it's overplayed by the administration in its pursuit of untrammeled power.

Yes, go after Bush for his earlier failures, such as at Tora Bora. But stop coming across - and some among us surely do - like the best course of action now is to pull troops out of Iraq only to slam them into the mountains of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

No comments:

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}} document.write('');