“Al Qaeda will have to support McCain in the coming election.”
So reads a website closely associated with Al-Qaeda, according to Nick Kristof in his Sunday New York Times column.
It’s no surprise that Bin Laden and his henchman are watching the American election (any bets on the cable channel they prefer?). But their presidential pick probably raised some eyebrows. I spent a good part of my Sunday wondering why they chose McCain.
I dismissed the idea that Bin Laden actually wants the rendez-vous that McCain promises at the Gates of Hell. I think the terrorist is probably pretty scared of the old Navy fighter pilot in a mano-a-mano situation.
Joe Nye, a former Clinton Administration official, makes an important point in the article: “From their perspective, a continuation of Bush policies is good for recruiting.”
But I think Kristof hits the nail right on the head when he compares McCain’s position to other mistakes made in recent American history:
“During the cold war, the American ideological fear of communism led us to mistake every muddle-headed leftist for a Soviet pawn. Our myopia helped lead to catastrophe in Vietnam. In the same way today, an exaggerated fear of ‘Islamofascism’ elides a complex reality and leads us to overreact and damage our own interests.”
Bin Laden has been an amazing failure in attracting Muslims to his call for an all-out war against the West. Almost no Muslims want that war, and even fewer are actually willing to fight in it.
So Al-Qaeda has gone to Plan B: create the illusion that more than a tiny handful of Muslims are engaged in this battle. That’s one of the reasons that Al-Qaeda chooses respectable members of a society – engineers, doctors – to carry out attacks.
But illusions are only successful when the audience gets duped. Too many McCain supporters have bought the Al-Qaeda line.
Consider the Clarion Fund, who sent 28 million copies of a Muslim-hating film called Obsession to households in swing states in a clear attempt to influence the election in favor of McCain. I’ve written elsewhere about how this film has made people afraid of their Muslim neighbors
But even more importantly, it makes all of us less secure. Because as our suspicions are cast upon our law-abiding Muslim neighbors, genuine terrorists might slip through.
If Al-Qaeda really thinks a McCain administration would both boost real recruiting AND help advertise the illusion that all Muslims are the enemy, it’s no wonder they are pulling for him.