If this Bin Laden tape is legit and al Qaeda is in fact asking for a truce with the Europeans in exchange for bowing-out of the war on terror and making nice-nice on Muslims, it’s a big deal. Even if strategically it amounts to little — even the French wouldn’t publicly accept such a bargain. But it reflects a great deal about the way al Qaeda sees this conflict. It is now impossible for the champions of nuance to claim that the Spanish capitulation was anything but a huge victory for al Qaeda — in the eyes of al Qaeda. Why? Because this tape shows that they now believe they can build on the success of Spain and create a non-aggression pact with Europe.
From the vantage point of an Islamist, Europe is much less of a threat. Militarily, it can’t do much beyond its borders. It’s not particularly Christian any more and is getting less so everyday. Meanwhile, Muslims already have significant demographic advantages in Europe and those advantages are only increasing. Why not divide the West?
After all, America is the danger and, even better, America cares what Europeans think. Indeed, for some reason many Americans actually believe doing good is bad unless there are a bunch of white guys with foreign accents helping us out. If Europe turns its back on America, won’t America lose it’s nerve even further?
What will be interesting is not how European leaders react — they will all say very dismissive and brave things. What will be interesting is to see how the “European street” reacts. I fear many will be all too willing to make such a deal. After all, many of them have been demanding such an arrangement for a while. And, the more interchangeable the war in Iraq and the war on terror become, the more Europeans will be attracted to such a bargain.