Thursday, September 20, 2007

What Do Wahhabis Want?

[posted by Callimachus]

Victor Davis Hanson on What Does Bin Laden Want?

In 2004, bin Laden objected to our logical conclusion that he instead hated the West simply for its freedom. He posed this rhetorical question: "Contrary to what Bush says and claims -- that we hate freedom -- let him tell us then, 'Why did we not attack Sweden?'"

I think we can now answer that by pointing out that al-Qaida has just put out a $100,000 murder bounty on a Swedish cartoonist who was a little too free in his caricatures of Islam. Note that Sweden has no troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, lets in plenty of Middle Eastern Muslims and wants no part of George Bush's "war on terror."

But then radical Islamists have also threatened Danish cartoonists, Dutch filmmakers, German opera producers, and the pope. All have nothing to do with Iraq or Afghanistan or Israel -- but simply do things that radical Islam finds blasphemous.

So aren't these constantly changing gripes of al Qaeda's just pretexts for bin Laden's larger hatred of Western-inspired freedom?

Of course what bin Laden wants doesn't amount to a hill of catshit if he doesn't have millions of donors in mosques around the world, thousands of angry young men willing to take up arms or go undercover in his crusade, and a well-placed handful of Choam Nomskys to be his useful idiots in the West. Without all that, he's just as pathetic as some impotent loner sitting in his apartment obsessively watching the hit meter on his Youtube videos.

And I'm willing to bet many, if not most, of those people who work for or enable bin Laden don't share his quixotic caliphate dreams. They get to his camp by a mix of paths, personal, political, psychological, or otherwise. Global and local, tribal and doctrinal.

And not just devout Muslims. American college students, for instance.

At the same time, Osama bin Laden presents many good arguments against the president and many of his reasons for disapproving of Bush are similar to those of anti-Bush Americans. Would it be wrong to assume that there is some kind of connection between feelings of the American people and those of Osama bin Laden? As I would love to make this connection, I ultimately cannot because of the actions of our president. If I were to say I agree with bin Laden, that would mean that I agree with a terrorist; under the Patriot Act, I could be labeled a potential terrorist and my phone could be tapped, and every move I make could be watched and analyzed.

This one has just taken the first step. Adam Gadahn went the distance:

A Californian heavy metal fan, who converted to Islam and became the first American to be charged with treason in half a century, has been fingered as the author of Osama bin Laden's latest video lecture - which left the terror chief sounding like an anti-globalisation protester.

The al-Qaeda leader's first video message for three years featured a bizarre rant against America, with references to global warming, "insane taxes", the US mortgage market meltdown and rising interest rates.

American spy chiefs were quick to name Adam Gadahn, the head of al-Qaeda's English language media operations, as the author of large sections of bin Laden's broadcast.

Last October, the 28-year-old "loner" became the first American charged with treason since 1952, for appearing in a succession of al-Qaeda videos under the guise of "Azzam The American", in which he condemned globalisation and made American cultural references.

... A former senior US intelligence official said: "It has Adam Gadahn written all over it." Mike Baker, a former CIA covert operations officer, said the tape left bin Laden with "the title of biggest gas bag in the terrorist world."

No wonder it resonated with the progressive college kid.

Ultimately, for every day he lives, bin Laden draws to him the collective energy and weight of support of every person deeply resentful of anything about America and Americans collectively or individually, of every force in world history currently represented most potently by America, and of every trait projected onto America by some kook's internal psychodrama.

Periodically, circumstances allow this swirling sludge of resentment to gather like a boil and rise up in a corporeal form. It did so in the time of Stalin, and many people rushed to be his supporters, in spite of every ethical and logical objection. Whatever bin Laden is or wants, he's already become much more than that. And, like Stalin, he's learned to tune his broadcasts to lure more moth-brains to his flames.

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