Thursday, January 19, 2006

Getting All Derrida On His Ass

The Bin Laden tape (possibly) is an interesting story. But most interesting is this bit:

"We do not mind offering you a long-term truce with fair conditions that we adhere to," he said. "We are a nation that God has forbidden to lie and cheat. So both sides can enjoy security and stability under this truce so we can build Iraq and Afghanistan, which have been destroyed in this war. There is no shame in this solution, which prevents the wasting of billions of dollars that have gone to those with influence and merchants of war in America."

The speaker did not give conditions for a truce in the excerpts aired by Al-Jazeera.

Hmmm. What happened to all the rhetoric about chasing infidels out of the holy land and the destruction of the West? Is this a kindler gentler bin Laden? Aside from the merits of the question of a truce (which seems kind of absurd when it comes on the back of a threat) this is revealing. I think Al Qaeda has a PR problem. Especially in Iraq, there's mounting evidence of "red-on-red" violence between Sunni insurgents and the foreign jihadists Al Qaeda exports because of the number of innocent Iraqis killed in their suicide bombings. There's enthusiasm for elections (noted by massive turnout) that Bin Laden demanded Muslims boycott, coincidentally in his last submitted tape. Could he realize that his viewpoint may be getting unpopular?

No doubt this is all a ruse and I don't believe a word Bin Laden or whoever might be posing as him actually says, but I think it's rooted in the fact that Al Qaeda is facing a real and substantial problem getting support in the Arab World given that its viewpoints have already become antiquated. In its striving to commit as much violence as possible and to stop all the nascent engines of democracy and change, it has looked like (big suprise) the bad guy. Not saying either people love America, they obviously don't, but Al Qaeda has shown itself as a dead-end cause offering no alternative worth supporting. Hence the desperate rhetorical shift. Also, hence the need to freshly scare people.