The day after the election, I said that I thought that our enemies were high-fiving. I received a torrent of angry, expletive-ridden, emails from Democrats and others saying that was outrageous. Well, as the story Michael Rubin links to suggests, I was basically right. From that story :
The audio message, whose authenticity has not been verified, was published on Islamist websites and was said to be the voice of Abu Hamza al-Muhajir.
The Democrats’ victory in Tuesday’s Congressional elections was a move in the right direction, the speaker said.
Outgoing US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had stepped down to flee the Iraqi battlefield, he added.
He told US President George W Bush to “stay on the battleground”.
“I tell the lame duck (US administration) do not rush to escape as did your defence minister.
“The American people have taken a step in the right path to come out of their predicament… they voted for a level of reason,” the voice said. Muhajir, also known as Ayyub al-Masri, has been identified by US forces as the successor to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, killed in a raid in June 2006.
Me: Now, let me add something important. I don’t think that merely because al Qaeda types are happy about the election that this means their interpretation is correct. Since 9/11 I’ve heard Bush critics make the argument many times that Bush was doing exactly what the terrorists want, that he was playing into their hands etc etc. Depending on the actual policy being debated, I’ve often thought that Bush’s critics were probably or at least possibly correct. Saying, “that’s exactly what Bin Laden wants you to do” is not by itself a persuasive argument against a course of action. Why? Because Bin Laden doesn’t have a pipeline into the future any more than the rest of us. Whether he’s a whackjob or not (or even alive), the law of unintended consequences applies equally to everybody. Obviously, Al Qaeda wanted 9/11 to happen, but the evidence suggests that they didn’t appreciate the consequences of their actions. If the Looming Tower is to be believed, for example, those attacks brought about their near complete destruction.
Similarly, it may turn out that the Democrats’ victory will result in a new level of bipartisan commitment to winning the war on terror. It may result in new policies, unforeseeable right now, which may improve the situation in Iraq or make things better in other ways. We all live in the dark about what the future holds. Personally, it’s not my expectation that the Democrats will usher in a major improvement in the war on terror, but as an American it is certainly my hope. And, I have no doubt it is the hope and aspiration of the Democrats themselves. Al Qaeda subscribes to a cartoonish understanding of both Republicans and Democrats, so it is hardly shocking that this is their view. I think it is the hope, or at least should be, of every American that al Qaeda couldn’t be more wrong. But only time will tell how wrong they are.