Talk about timing. When the tall bearded one pops up 4 days before the election, he really doesn't leave much room for doubt about his intentions. I won't comment on the content of his speech (no surprises whatsoever) except to say that the only thing missing from it was the closing voice-over: "I'm Michael Moore and I approved this message."
So What Will It All Mean?
The spin is quite easy to predict. The Kerry camp (not John Kerry- can't politicize something like this) will spin it with a "Bush failed to kill or capture him" theme. "Time to give Kerry a chance."
The Bush camp has already benefited from one of the greatest spinners of all time- Dick Morris (the man who spun Clinton into the hero that he still is today). Yes, Dick was himself disgraced by a sex scandal during the Clinton years, but I'm not one to pass judgment on people's personal problems. I greatly respect his political acumen- not just because he came to the "right" side as it were- but mostly because this guy seems to have a sixth sense when it comes to gauging America's collective political mindset. Yesterday on FOX, he explained why this tape will help Bush:
-Osama will remind people of the threat of terrorism, which is Bush's strongest point among voters.
-Osama couldn't send a bomb to mess with the election so he sent a tape.
-Osama couldn't send a bomb because Homeland Security (and Bush) are working.
-Osama practically quotes from Michael Moore's movie, Fattieguy 911, showing that Moore in effect gave aid and comfort to the enemy with his movie.
The Belmont Club took it even further- calling it Osama's Surrender:
It is important to notice what he has stopped saying in this speech. He has stopped talking about the restoration of the Global Caliphate. There is no more mention of the return of Andalusia. There is no more anticipation that Islam will sweep the world. He is no longer boasting that Americans run at the slightest wounds; that they are more cowardly than the Russians. He is not talking about future operations to swathe the world in fire but dwelling on past glories. He is basically saying if you leave us alone we will leave you alone. Though it is couched in his customary orbicular phraseology he is basically asking for time out.
The American answer to Osama's proposal will be given on Election Day. One response is to agree that the United States of America will henceforth act like Sweden, which is on track to become majority Islamic sometime after the middle of this century. The electorate best knows which candidate will serve this end; which candidate most promises to be European-like in attitude and they can choose that path with both eyes open. The electorate can strike that bargain and Osama may keep his word. The other course is to reject Osama's terms utterly; to recognize the pleading in his outwardly belligerent manner and reply that his fugitive existence; the loss of his sanctuaries; the annihilation of his men are but the merest foretaste of what is yet to come: to say that to enemies such as he, the initials 'US' will always mean Unconditional Surrender.
Osama has stated his terms. He awaits America's answer.
This video is by no means a cause for celebration. But it hardly warrants any doom and gloom either, as far as I'm concerned. From a military perspective, there are many ways to look at this. Every time he puts out a message, he leaves a trail that could potentially mean his undoing. It's not just our CIA and special forces that have already begun to seize on this trail- it's also a plethora of bounty hunters (mostly former Delta/SEAL types) in search of $25 million and all the glory that comes with being a real-life superhero. I wouldn't want to be the guy who delivered that tape to Al-Jazeera right now. This is why we tend not to hear much from Osama. So yes, it's good news in that it could potentially lead to his capture or (more likely) destruction.
For that same reason, Osama is clearly desperate. He wouldn't risk emerging like this unless he felt the need to rally his supporters and/or intimidate his enemies (us). As I mentioned, we are at a crossroads, and Osama must have felt a sense of desperation. If he felt like he had this thing in the bag, he wouldn't have risked sending this message. So yes, I'm glad things aren't going well for him these days.
Lastly, I'm glad to know that we can still kill him on a world stage. My greatest fear was that he was buried underneath some rubble somewhere- never to be discovered. Ever. That would be the worst scenario of all- because his "mystique" would live on amongst his "true believers" for a long long time. That's all he is at this point anyway. A figurehead. A man who "can't be had by the evil Americans." He doesn't plan, he doesn't finance, he doesn't come up with any great ideas. There's no way for him to do these things while he's on the run as he is now. He can't lead his followers as a General leads his troops. People like Zarqawi filled that role for him long ago. His only purpose is to inspire hatred and bloodlust in those who follow his fanatic brand of Islam.
I'm not downplaying his significance- his very existence does damage to our cause with each passing day. But when we kill him, we'll need definitive proof of his demise in order for it to be effective at all. Our need to kill him is purely strategic- nobody who replaces him as the spritual leader of al Qaeda will have the now-mythical following that Osama has. I don't think Zarqawi will rise to the occasion, mainly because I don't think Zarqawi will be amongst the living come December. Once bin Laden dies, his followers will finally have to accept him for what he always was- just another in a long line of mass murderers who ultimately met justice at the hands of the Americans. So yes, I'm glad to know that we'll have a chance at killing him in full view of his followers. That sounds harsh, but look who we're talking about here.
Another Must Read From Krauthhammer
While the flip-flopper's spin-meisters feed America lies about how Bush (not Tommy Franks) "let Osama get away" at Tora Bora (Kerry's favorite lie these days), please make sure to read Charles Krauthammer's article about why Tommy Franks, a decorated General with 30+ years of military experience, was absolutely correct in the way he handled Tora Bora- while John Kerry, a guy who spent a few months chasing medals before he fled the battlefield and disgraced his fellow veterans from the comforts of home, was dead wrong to criticize the good General.