Saturday, October 30, 2004

Danger in spinning Bin Laden's remarks

Posted by Craig Westover | 10:47 AM |  

Wretchard at the Belmont Club has a commentary on Osma Bin Laden’s video that Powerline picks up to characterize Bin Laden as “the kid on the playground who tries to call "time out" when he's about to get clobbered.” That strikes me as wishful thinking.

Bin Laden’s message shouldn’t be equated with the political rhetoric of the campaign, the mudslinging and disingenuous charges the campaigns hurl at each other. “Spinning” his comments is further trivialization of leadership.

Perhaps today is just a cynical day, but I’m taking comfort in the belief that the American electorate is so saturated with meaningless campaign rhetoric, so imbued with partisanship that there is no capacity for Americans to be swayed by the dangerous subtleties of Bin Laden’s remarks -- an admittedly shortsighted view. Although our ignorance of subtlety may protect our homeland comfort, it dooms us to persistent misunderstanding and underestimation of the enemy we face abroad.

Rather than a playground metaphor, Bin Laden’s words echo more like those of the serpent in Genesis Chapter Three --

1: Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2: And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4: And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
Virtually following a biblical style -- a technique frequently used by Abraham Lincoln -- Bin Laden addresses his remarks to the “American people,” not “America” the country or its leaders, as the serpent addressed Eve, alone. In the calm manner of one speaking to teach, he raises doubts about the truth of what we have been told in terms -- “security” and “freedom” -- that we understand. He uses flattery and guile --

I am telling you security is an important pillar of human life. And free people don't let go of their security contrary to Bush's claims that we hate freedom. He should tell us why we didn't hit Sweden for instance. Its known that those who hate freedom don't have dignified souls. like the 19 who were blessed. But we fought you because we are free people, we don't sleep on our oppression. We want to regain the freedom of our Muslim nation as you spill our security, we spill your security.

I am so surprised by you. Although we are in the fourth year after the events of Sept 11, Bush is still practicing distortion and misleading on you, and obscuring the main reasons and therefore the reasons are still existing to repeat what happened before. I will tell you the reasons behind theses incidents.

Bin Laden then plays to the doubt that lingers in the American mind -- that somehow America is always to blame for the evil in the world.

I will be honest with you on the moment when the decision was taken to understand. We never thought of hitting the towers. But after we were so fed up, and we saw the oppression of the American Israeli coalition on our people in Palestine and Lebanon, it came to my mind and the incidents that really touched me directly goes back to 1982 and the following incidents. When the US permitted the Israelis to invade Lebanon with the assistance of the 6th fleet. In these hard moments, it occurred to me so many meanings I cant explain but it resulted in a general feeling of rejecting oppression and gave me a hard determination to punish the oppressors. While I was looking at the destroyed towers in Lebanon, it came to my mind to punish the oppressor the same way and destroy towers in the US to get a taste of what they tasted, and quit killing our children and women.
Having instilled doubt, like the serpent, Bin Laden reveals his truth and, for support, the president’s motivation for the lies. Again, he beguiles by linking the president’s father with regimes that are inherently repulsive to American traditions. He again plays to the theme of freedom with references to the Patriot Act and the Florida election.

We didn't find difficulty dealing with Bush and his administration due to the similarity of his regime and the regimes in our countries. With half of them are ruled by military and the other half by sons of kings and presidents and our experience with them is long. Both parties are arrogant and stubborn and the greediness and taking money without right and that similarity appeared during the visits of Bush to the region while people from our side were impressed by the US and hoped that these visits would influence our countries. Here he is being influenced by these regimes, Royal and military. And was feeling jealous they were staying for decades in power stealing the nations finances without anybody overseeing them. So he transferred the oppression of freedom and tyranny to his son and they call it the Patriot Law to fight terrorism. He was bright in putting his sons as governors in states and he didn't forget to transfer his experience from the rulers of our region to Florida to falsify elections to benefit from it in critical times.

Next, in a single paragraph, Bin Laden provides a more damning image of the president’s minutes of inaction after being told of the attack than all of John Kerry’s ranting political rhetoric, implying sympathy for the victims of the act he himself perpetrated -- a subtle transfer of blame to American leaders, which plays into the essence of the 9/11 Commission hearings.
We agreed with Mohamed Atta, god bless him, to execute the whole operation in 20 minutes. Before Bush and his administration would pay attention and we never thought that the high commander of the US armies would leave 50 thousand of his citizens in both towers to face the horrors by themselves when they most needed him because it seemed to distract his attention from listening to the girl telling him about her goat butting was more important than paying attention to airplanes butting the towers which gave us three times the time to execute the operation thank God.
Then, as did the serpent did to Eve, he presents us with a choice. For Eve, the serpent removed the guilt of her desire to be “wise,” to know good and evil. Bin Laden attempts to remove the guilt (or unpatriotic feelings) associated with seeking security through peaceful means. He expects us to act in line with our desires -- to choose based on how we feel, not what we a told. Like the serpent knew of Eve, Bin Laden expects the people to carry the message to our leaders.
Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or Al Qaeda. Your security is in your hands. Each state that doesn't mess with our security has automatically secured their security.
Applying "spin doctor" tactics to this man is a dangerous self-deception.

UPDATE: Captain Ed weighs in

From Captain's Quarters --
Far from signaling a surrender, I believe that OBL wants to influence the American elections as another demonstration of his power. He wants to depose George Bush, but he's smart enough to understand that a fire-breathing performance only helps Bush by scaring/insulting the voters. His moderate performance was designed to appeal to the reasonable leftists and centrists who tend to believe that America brought Islamist terror onto itself. His "offer" amounts to a lever with which to promote anti-Israel sentiment to undercut support for Bush, as well as give people the impression that the war is Bush's fault, despite the years of Al Qaeda attacks on American assets.
I think Captain Ed is closer to the mark with his take on Bin Laden, but if all the pundits and politicos out there can’t agree on whom his comments hurt or help, one has to wonder if Bin Laden really gives a damn who wins the election. Different strategy for different administrations, but even should Kerry win the election, it’s not a cakewalk for Al-Queda. The biggest asset going for Bin Laden is the political division within the United States -- a situation not likely to improve regardless of who wins the election.