al Qaida Lite

al Qaida Lite taste’s great… no it’s less filling

tastes great…

Alright, it’s a bad joke, I admit it, but you try and come up with an interesting way to lead into about the billionth story about El Presidente talking about al Qaida and Iraq (not to be confused with al Qaida in Iraq which will be discussing in a minute here), it gets tricky after a while.

Fact is, al Qaida as a paper tiger isn’t exactly a new one. The first I read about it was over at Political Animal back in late 2004.

The concept’s not all that hard to follow. The terrorist group isn’t nearly as monolithically dangerous as many of us believe, or are led to believe. It’s essentially this boogeyman with questionable organizational skills and ability.

But then, one day, the bookeyman got REAL lucky. Under the direction of Osama bin Laden, the New York skyline was scarred forever, the Pentagon ravaged, and three thousand Americans died. It’s no wonder that the monster under the bed turned into the monster under EVERYONE’S bed, and in the airport, the bus station, the underground, and nearly everywhere you look.

We still suffer from the hypochondriac fear towards swaths of Arabic people, any one of them possibly a terrorist ready to take out the local mall, or a beloved amusement park.

And then Bush used al Qaida to declare war.

It was at this point that the paper tiger crawled up and purred in El Presidente’s lap. Now, don’t take that to mean Bush takes his marching orders from bin Laden, nor that bin Laden is under The Commander Guy’s command. It just means that from the moment the twin towers fell, Bush had a date and a name that he could use like a magic wand to make what he wanted to happen happen.

He used it to justify job loss, a war in Iraq, a struggling economy, deficit spending, and any other countless problems or agenda items where he thought the little paper tiger in his pocket could claw people into submission for him.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11th, all you had to do was say “al Qaida” and you had people’s attention. Throw in a verb and a predicate, and Bush’s paper tiger could conduct millions of people to do a wide array of things, including even vote for him again.

This hits to the very heart of how fundamentally unwise Bush’s approach to terror (and therefore by proxy most of the GOP candidates) really is.

I often times quickly say that it’s bad to make war with terrorists, to give them the political spotlight, but here’s why. You have to think about what’s going on. At the center you have a very small number of people who actually and fully believe what they are doing.

According to Richard Clarke, Osama bin Laden’s aim is to drive the world into a fourteenth century theocracy, one in which fundamentally radical Islam is the ruler of the global state. No actions are considered taboo in the spirit of attaining this, no attack out of bounds, no target off limits.

Think about the implications of that for a moment. That means that it is even perfectly fine to kill your own people of your own faith if it can be justified to bring about the global theocracy.

This is important because it is important to understand that as a bare ideology with no antagonist, and no environmental stressors is not appealing to average people. Without provocation, there are very few people who will support indiscriminate violence, the kind of violence that can result in the death of your neighbors.

But that leaves, as a result, a situation that is unfavorable to the promoter of the ideology. Such an ultimate goal requires recruitment, and therefore a narrative. An antagonist must be employed, and it must be a unifying, monolithic one, one, curiously enough, much like al Qaida for Americans.

For Osama, that’s where the narrative began. A behemoth, one that threatens the very livelihood and culture of the Muslim world that he sought to enlist. He found that great apocolyptic beast in America, a Western culture whose very precepts conflicted with the ultra conservative ways of radical Islam.

But what good is a beast with no claws? What is the threat when there is no proof of carnage? For bin Laden, he didn’t have to do a lot of inventing.

Weeks before the 2004 presidential election, Bush’s paper tiger made a tape, one that outlined the reasons for the September eleventh attacks. He virtually scoffed at the three years of rhetoric that Bush spewed prior, saying that al Qaida didn’t attack America because of its freedoms.

Instead he cited attacks made by the Reagan administration in Lebanon back in the eighties, and by the propensity for the US to bolster Middle East dictatorships for its own interests.

Indeed, we can see how bin Laden’s recruitment begins to take shape if we don’t blindly shrug off his statements, intentionally forcing ourselves to be ignorant on some ill-conceived principle. bin Laden had the cause, the beast that stood in the way, and the claws that threatened the livelihoods of those he sought to recruit.

But this is still not enough. At this point, it’s still just extremists. To accomplish the goal, war needed to wage. To wage a war, the war must be instigated.

9-11 was far from the first terrorist attack. Nor was it the first terrorist attack, but with 9-11 Osama hit the jackpot. He woke the slumbering beast with Bush at its head, and the greatest thing he could have hoped happened.


No narrative was needed any longer as Bush attacked first Afghanistan (which he was correct to do), and then Iraq (not so correct).

The effect was interesting and ironic, each of the adversaries becoming each other’s paper tiger. Bush and his policies provides no end of recruitment material for the head of al Qaida, and any time Bush needs something to happen, particularly when it has anything whatsoever to do with National Security or Foreign Policy, the al Qaida tiger rears its ugly head.

So here we are, six years following that one lucky day for a madman, entrenched in a war in Iraq with little hope for military success, and not much more hope for diplomatic success either. The effects on our country have been staggering, polarizing us, entrenching our own populace on either side of a national debate that has gone far beyond sanity.

And Bush is still trying to use his paper tiger.

You can’t wage an extended war without public support. At best, you get two or four years before people vote out those who are guaranteed to let the war continue in favor of politicians who will put a stop to this. Bush and his people knew this. This is why at the beginning of the war, even through the 2004 elections the Neconservative movement conflagrated a Saddam-bin Laden link long after it had been debunked.

As long as he could get al Qaida worked in there with the efforts in Iraq, enough people will keep up their support. But this alone was not enough, and the administratioin has been carefully and continuously using a carrot and stick with no carrot routine to help keep the support going.

At first it was overthrowing Saddam, then everything will be okay, then it’s catching Saddam, then it’s free elections, and then more free elections, and now it’s the surge, which is really a euphamism for “as soon as we can get the Iraqi’s to talk to each other, we’ll be done.”

But in 2006, enough support had seeped out from under the president to see a shift of majority in both the House and the Senate, and for the first time since it’s inception, Bush’s war was truly threatened.

Earlier this year, Congressional Democrats attempted to put an end to this war. Bush thwarted these attempts in a chicken match that put the funding and therefore well being of the troops at stake.

Enough Democrats weren’t willing to take the risk of leaving the troops unfunded, and backed down. This granted the president some breathing room, but the situation has gotten desperate. With the surge not working as well as Bush needed it to work to win back the confidence of the people, Democratic legislators ready to introduce new proposals without the restriction of troop funding reading to come crashing down on their heads, there was only one thing left to do…

Bring the paper tiger back out of the pocket en masse. But this al Qaida is not your father’s al Qaida.

The group’s official name is al Qaida in Iraq, and Bush has been flogging the terrorist group as though it were the same as plain old al Qaida, which it isn’t.

It is perhaps appropriate that this guise of al Qaida has become Bush’s new paper tiger, it is, after all, partly his creation. al Qaida in Iraq didn’t exist until after we invaded Iraq in 2003, and still doesn’t follow Osama bin Laden’s marching orders even though it has pledged their allegiance to him in 2004, the year after it was created.

But because its name is al Qaida, Bush has found a convenient scape goat, and a comfortable old tool to use to try and drum up support for his war even as it is in its death throes. It’s almost like watching a medical drama where, as a last resort the doctor punches a syringe of atropene into the patience heart to keep him alive just a little longer.

What is even more misleading is while Bush is flaunting this al Qaida Lite as the real enemy, it still only accounts for a small percentage of the violence in Iraq. He has quickly attributed the defacing of a famed Shia mosque to al Qaida, though no group has taken credit, and evidence is inconclusive.

And while most of the fighting in Iraq is still between Sunni and Shiites, the violence is disproportionately being attributed to al Qaida, and if US military news reports are any indicator, this increase in misrepresenting the violence is only likely to increase.

The bottom line is this. There are still some who say that our military could do well there. Perhaps this is true. But not under these conditions. I wrote two days ago that the decision to go to war should be devestating, it should rip you apart. Likewise, the justification of war should never have to be politicked.

The only way that Bush can maintain whatever strangle hold on whatever support he has is through carefully crafted statements, through smoke and mirrors, through the dramatization of ghosts, bogeymen, and monsters under the bed.

If you want dead honesty, we can do no good like this in Iraq. Not when our leader has dug himself into such a hole where he MUST mischaracterize reality in order to keep things on path. What is needed is new leadership, plain and simple. Leadership that is honest, and looks at the situation not from a viewpoint that desperately is trying to scrape up support however possible.

Bush’s credibility is shot to the point where even when he tells the truth it means nothing, which bodes poorly for the war, and any efforts we make in Iraq until he is removed from office.

In short, we can not win, nor wage this war under the false premises of paper tigers, and al Qaida Lite.

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