Archive for July 14th, 2007

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Let’s Challenge Al Qaeda To Prove That Bin Laden Is Still Alive

July 14, 2007

In light of the recent al Qaeda video containing a 50 second “message” from OBL that seems to be nothing more than old footage (hat tip Hot Air), it’s pretty clear that the terrorist organization wants us to believe that their leader is still alive and kicking.  After all, if he’s dead, they aren’t exactly advertising it.  Also, with this “call for martyrdom“,  al Qaeda seems to think that he’s still a pretty influential guy.

So I had an idea.  An idea to fight these guys that goes on the offensive but doesn’t require tanks, bombs, bullets, intel, or informants.  This idea requires nothing more than Bush stepping in front of the cameras to deliver an ultimatum:  Prove Osama is alive within 30 days or we’ll declare him dead. 

One would think that it’s not asking too much of them.  A simple video of the man talking about current events or some other proof of life would be all they need. There are probably dozens of ways they could do it without having him come out of his cave.

What would Zawahiri do?  My guess is that it would immediately put al Qaeda on the defensive.  If he’s dead or incapacitated, they certainly wouldn’t want all their little cells all over the world knowing they’ve been pulling a fast one on them all this time (since ’04?), so they would probably attempt to brush it off as some sort of subversive plot to locate their hideout or something.  Even if they did that, however, it would marginalize any future video depicting bin Laden since it would contain footage that wouldn’t prove he’s alive even while the challenge is still out there.  Or, they may simply chose to ignore the challenge and refrain from releasing any OBL footage in the future.  That’s the best outcome, as we would declare him dead and the cells would have their wills deflated knowing that its probably true and their leadership wilted under the ultimatum.  Al Qaeda would essentially lose their idol.

Of course, there’s a chance that Osama is still alive and that Zawahiri can readily respond to the challenge.  If that’s the case, then we really wouldn’t be much worse off than we are now.  Perhaps we could use the opportunity to track their location since this would be a video delivered more on our terms than theirs.  It’s probably not likely, but we could catch a break in the process and get lucky.

In any case, this idea certainly seems better than the alternative, which is allowing a phantom to inspire the world’s jihadis indefinitely.  We wouldn’t want bin Laden to live on for 50 years like some sort of terrorist Elvis Presley.  I think it’s time to remove the Osama card from their hand, and since we obviously can’t prove that he’s dead, we should put them under the pressure to prove that he’s alive.  It seems like a safe bet to me.

Of course, the question is (as it usually is): Would Bush do it?  Is ‘dead or alive’ still valid?  Or, as some suggest, does Bush have as vested an interest in Osama’s phantom-ness as al Qaeda does? 

C’mon Bush!  Get ‘tough on terror’.  Call them on their BS already.

Edit:  I did think of one negative scenario.  If bin Laden is still alive and well then al Qaeda may decide to wait until after we’ve declared him dead to prove he’s alive.  I’m not sure how that would play out.  It could make AQ look so weak that they couldn’t even produce a simple video within 30 days, or it could bolster Osama’s status (in a “back from the dead to poke the infidels in the eye” sort of way). Even so, it’s worth the risk I think.

Update: Wiki has a list of statements, video and audio of OBL since 9/11. Bin Laden may have died as late as last year , assuming the audiotapes are authentic. But it looks like there is no video proving he is alive since 2004. 

Update:  Blogger Ali Eteraz surmises that OBL’s appearance in the video, and the hadith being repeated could be significant and that it could mean that he is, in fact, dead:  Breaking Al-Qaeda Code Islamically: New OBL Video Possibly Announcement Of His Death

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Mission Creep

July 14, 2007

First, from wiki:

Mission creep
the expansion of a project or mission beyond its original goals, often after initial successes.[1] The term often implies a certain disapproval of newly adopted goals by the user of the term. Mission creep is usually considered undesirable due to the dangerous path of each success breeding more ambitious attempts, only stopping when a final, often catastrophic, failure occurs. The term was originally applied exclusively to military operations, but has recently been applied to many different fields, mainly the growth of bureaucracies.

Then, take a look at the excellent post over at Think Progress: The Ever Changing Definition of ‘Mission’ In Iraq

Let’s summarize:  Saddam is dead, the WMD’s are gone, Iraq is sovereign, elections were held…and then today, this: Iraq PM: Country Can Manage Without U.S.

Are we there yet?