Too late for terror to derail Bush

There’s just one week to go. Lately there’s been speculation about whether a terror attack might occur on American soil before Election Day, and if so, what effect it might have on the outcome of the presidential election. I’ve been mulling this over and I think it’s too late for any attack here to hurt President Bush’s chances. At this point an attack can only help him, and I think the terrorists know it. Let me explain.


Religion and politics
No serious person doubts that our Islamist enemies hate America and its leaders. They hate John Kerry, just as they hate all Americans. But they hate and fear George Bush. To their way of thinking, Kerry’s policies are the lesser of two evils. If they knew of a tactic that stood a good chance of swaying the American electorate toward Kerry, they’d try it.
Remember that Islamism is both a religious and a political ideology. Islamists want to rule the world under the banner of Islam, and they pursue their terrorism strategy in an effort to influence the rest of us to retreat and surrender. They hope to frighten some of us by demonstrating their fanatical commitment to bloodshed and conquest. They also play upon the sympathies of liberals by falsely portraying themselves as victims of western colonialism and Jewish/Christian religious persecution. Although the Islamists’ worldview and culture are mired in the Dark Ages, they do understand quite a bit about how the West thinks. They’re a horde encamped outside our walls, and they’re probing for weak spots.
Two successes
The Islamists hope to weaken our resolve by peeling away our allies. Until recently, Spain’s government under Jose Maria Aznar was our relatively staunch ally in the war on radical Islam. However, the Spanish public was opposed to the war, and the Islamists exploited that. Less than a week before Spain’s most recent election, Islamists blew up a few passenger trains packed with commuters in Madrid, killing 190. The Spanish electorate lost what little courage it had and turned out Aznar and his party, replacing them with Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Zapatero’s socialists promptly fulfilled their campaign pledge to bring all of Spain’s troops home from Iraq. Score one for the Islamists.
Look at another erstwhile ally of ours, the Philippines. When the Islamists paraded just one Filipino hostage before their cameras and threatened to behead him, President Arroyo caved in. The Philippines no longer have troops in Iraq. Score two for the Islamists.
Two failures
Australia is a major ally in the war on radical Islam, so naturally Al Qaeda attacked Australians. It happened two years ago in Bali. However, the attack only emboldened Prime Minister Howard. Consider this: Australia just held an election that by all media accounts was supposed to be close, but instead it turned out to be a major victory for PM Howard and his coalition. The Islamists didn’t strike Australia on its own soil, even though they must have figured the race was close. The only attack that I remember occurring remotely near election time was a bombing outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta. Again the results proved disappointing to the Islamists’ hopes. Howard won by a comfortable margin, and Australia will remain our trusted ally (not that I’m surprised). There won’t be any big attacks in Australia anytime soon, because our friends Down Under are made of stern stuff, and the Islamists know it.
Why have there been no major attacks in Afghanistan, which just elected our ally Hamid Karzai to the Presidency? It’s because the Taliban lost the battle of ideas long before 9/11. Afghans remember the alternative to liberty. They lived through years of torment in “Osamaland”, and they aren’t about to turn back the clock to try it again. The Islamists aren’t complete fools; they have minimal support and our forces give them nowhere to hide or rest in Afghanistan. Their efforts would have a better return on investment somewhere else.
A wobbling, tempting target
When the Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad terrorist group recently kidnapped two Americans and one Brit in Iraq, they quickly killed their American hostages. But British subject Kenneth Bigley’s torment lasted for days before he too was slaughtered. Why? The Islamists suspected that British politicians would live up (down?) to their expectations. They know Tony Blair would never change the United Kingdom’s anti-terror policies just to prevent a beheading, but they suspect that other, weaker politicians might. If the weaklings take over Parliament, Blair will lose his position to a modern day Chamberlain, and British troops will head home soon after. I wasn’t surprised when, shortly after the Brits showed weakness over Bigley’s captivity and death, the Islamists kidnapped another British subject. This time, it’s Margaret Hassan. They’ll rape and torture and slaughter her, post the video on the Internet, and wait for more wobbling from the UK. As long as barbarism gets results the barbarians will keep it up.
Islamists in Iraq who kidnap Americans know President Bush won’t negotiate. The two Americans’ deaths were useful only as recruiting videos in the muslim world. Trust me, I know. You should see my server logs fill up with search engine hits from Google and Yahoo after a video of an Amerrican’s beheading hits the net, and most of my ghoulish visitors come from Europe and the Middle East. But such videos are worthless for blackmailing America.
So why not here?
Why haven’t the Islamists attacked us on our own soil as we approach Election Day? I see three possible explanations: they don’t want to; they can’t; or they’re waiting for a better time.
We know they want to, so we can discard the first option.
Could it be that they can’t hit us? I’m an optimist, but even our amazing military and our intelligence resources can’t be everywhere at once. Any Islamist with a hankering for martyrdom can tote a vest full of dynamite into a crowded theater in Dubuque, so we can rule out the second option.
I think they’re waiting. They’re hoping Bush loses, and they’re watching for the results of the election before they decide when and where to attack. The timing and the targets will depend on who’s going to be running the country for the next four years.
If I’m wrong and the Islamists are merely biding their time until just before November 2nd, then they’ve miscalculated badly. It’s too late for a terror attack on American soil to influence the election in Kerry’s favor. There are only seven days to go until Election Day, and if we get hit between now and then the American people will close ranks again like we did in 2001.
The American public trusts Republicans to defend the country much more than it trusts Democrats. That’s why it took roughly two weeks for the Democrats to muster the courage to criticize the President after the 9/11 attacks, and as payment for their crassness the voters hammered them at the polls in 2002. After any attack in the next week, the public would remember which party they trust on defense matters and the Republicans would come away with a major electoral victory.
Desperate Democrats might gamble on a last-minute political assault on President Bush to tar him with blame, but it would only disgust most Americans and give the GOP an even bigger win.
The uptick in violence in Iraq reveals the terrorists’ intentions. They hope to hurt Bush by making Iraq look as bad as possible, thus giving Kerry ammunition to fire at Bush. They hate Kerry but they hate and fear Bush. They’re evil but they’re not complete idiots. They can’t afford to attack us here before Election Day because it would unite us against them, and they must divide us to conquer us.

UPDATE: I told you so:

Leaders and supporters of the anti-U.S. insurgency say their attacks in recent weeks have a clear objective: The greater the violence, the greater the chances that President Bush will be defeated on Tuesday and the Americans will go home.

Resistance leader Abu Jalal boasted that the mounting violence had already hurt Mr. Bush’s chances.
“American elections and Iraq are linked tightly together,” he told a Fallujah-based Iraqi reporter. “We’ve got to work to change the election, and we’ve done so. With our strikes, we’ve dragged Bush into the mud.”

Contrast that with the view of an intellectual who thinks he understands the terrorists:

Mowafaq Al-Tai, a London-educated architect and intellectual, said different types of resistance fighters have different views of the U.S. election.
The most pro-Kerry, he said, are the former Saddam Hussein loyalists � Ba’ath Party members and others who think Washington might scale back its ambitions for Iraq if Mr. Kerry wins, allowing them to re-enter civic life.
The most pro-Bush, he said, are the foreign extremists. “They prefer Bush, because he’s a provocative figure, and the more they can push people to the extreme, the better for their case.”

Who’re ya gonna believe, an egghead on the sidelines or the actual terrorists?

This post has accelerated to merge with tonight’s Beltway Traffic Jam.
You’ll also find it at this week’s Carnival of The Vanities.

Other speculation:
Power Line
Ralph Peters (NY Post)
Belmont Club
Washington Post
Mark Steyn (and yet again)
Instapundit
Captain’s Quarters
Michelle Malkin
Slant Point
InTheBullpen
The American Mind
Rafael L. Bardají on NRO
John Dean on FindLaw
Fortier & Ornstein (American Enterprise Institute)
Joe Gandelman (a great round-up of posts re: postponing the election)
Daily Kos (utter kookery, so beware)
Wayne Madsen at Online Journal (kookery again)

21 comments

  1. Alex

    Good take and cogent argument.
    The Islamists are less interested in who is in office as they are the very existance of the office, as you point out.

  2. deadscot

    Nice piece PP. Based on how this administration has handled the war on terror thus far I would imagine that Islamic extremists would want Bush to remain in power and fear a Kerry presidency.
    Islamic extremists are experiencing great success in recruitment and finding sympathy from nations which the Bush administration has chosen to alienate. If he remains in power and continues the same course of action, the terrorists will be able to maintain the same level of resistance for an extended period of time.
    Should Kerry come in to office I would expect the terrorists to try something on a larger scale to try and throw him off his game plan. If he succeeds in building a stronger coalition and redirecting forces, the terrorists will effectively become choked off from their recruitment and supply chain. This is why they fear a Kerry administration and would be one of the underlying reasons for them to disrupt the elections. The main reason of course, is as you pointed out, is to destroy the foundations of American democracy altogether.

  3. Puddle Pirate

    Nice piece PP.
    Thank you.
    Based on how this administration has handled the war on terror thus far I would imagine that Islamic extremists would want Bush to remain in power and fear a Kerry presidency.
    See the first update above.
    Islamic extremists are experiencing great success in recruitment
    Sez who?
    and finding sympathy from nations which the Bush administration has chosen to alienate.
    Sympathy’s nice. Shelter, funds, and support are better, but I wonder which countries are dumb enough to do what you think they’re doing. It’d put them right in the crosshairs of the Bush Doctrine. Got some names, or is this all just wishful thinking?
    If he remains in power and continues the same course of action, the terrorists will be able to maintain the same level of resistance for an extended period of time.
    Like they did in Afghanistan? Resistance in Iraq’s going to wrap up soon too, after Bush wins. You watch.
    Should Kerry come in to office I would expect the terrorists to try something on a larger scale to try and throw him off his game plan.
    Absolutely. No doubt in my mind.
    If he succeeds in building a stronger coalition and redirecting forces,
    You mean getting France and Germany and Russia to send ill-equipped or non-existant forces to “the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time”? Not happening. Or did you mean the mighty Belgians?
    the terrorists will effectively become choked off from their recruitment and supply chain.
    Yeah, those UN summit meetings and tut-tutting diplomats sure do foul up terrorist logistics alot more than smart bombs. In other news, rocks fall upward and I’m an eggplant.
    This is why they fear a Kerry administration and would be one of the underlying reasons for them to disrupt the elections.
    They fear Bush more. Kerry’s the lesser of two evils in their worldview.
    The main reason of course, is as you pointed out, is to destroy the foundations of American democracy altogether.
    Bingo.

  4. Backcountry Conservative

    Around the Blogroll

    Tucker Eskew answers questions he’s been getting about the closeness of the presidential race and Bush as a “polarizing” figure. James Joyner discusses media bias for Kerry. Michele is afraid her head might explode. John Cole has a good post…

  5. deadscot

    Thank you.

    You’re welcome.
    I think we all agree that the Islamic extremists want Americans out of the region and are going to fight tooth and nail to make that happen. With said, right now they are focused on Bush only because he is in office but IMO terrorists would rather fight on with Bush than take on Kerry. Bush is more feared from a religious standpoint as he has the backing of right wing extremists but, Kerry is more feared for his military prowess.

    Sez who?

    Recruiting on the Rise
    Don’t get me wrong. I think if Bush is elected he will eventually be successful in Iraq but in more of a round-a-bout messy sort of way. He lacks the most basic tenet to be a good Commander-in-chief and that is to let your commanders and troops know what the problems are so they can do what they’ve been trained to do. His political, personal and financial agendas have always gotten in the way of letting the best troops in the world do the best job they can.

    You mean getting France and Germany and Russia to send ill-equipped or non-existant forces to “the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time”?

    The bottom-line is that many country have a lot to gain by having Iraq stabilized within the region and they can be brought to the table. Watching the debates, it’s clear to see how easily Bush could alienate foreign countries.
    Even though we have a superior fighting force we don’t have all the answers when it comes to providing a national police force or rebuilding effort. European and African nations have some of the best troops in the world for this sort of work and they will not play with Bush (or vice versa?)

    Yeah, those UN summit meetings and tut-tutting diplomats sure do foul up terrorist logistics alot more than smart bombs. In other news, rocks fall upward and I’m an eggplant.

    You’re an eggplant? Get out. Lowering the empathy level for terrorists, bringing more countries into play in the rebuilding, choking of financial support and weapons supply, these things will foul up terrorist efforts. Smart bombs are good too, just make sure you accurate intelligence and you’re not creating more sympathizes by blowing up the neighborhood grocery store.
    At the end of the day, Kerry is elected and we start getting the troops the info they need to get this war and the rebuilding on a realistic track and get them some help so they can get home.
    If Bush is reelected, Iraq becomes an election issue for 2008.

  6. Puddle Pirate

    I think we all agree that the Islamic extremists want Americans out of the region and are going to fight tooth and nail to make that happen.

    Yup.

    Bush is more feared from a religious standpoint as he has the backing of right wing extremists but, Kerry is more feared for his military prowess.

    Military prowess? Prowess?? Was Kerry in the Navy SEALs and I just didn’t hear about it? Or maybe he orchestrated two successful invasions on the other side of the world in the face of predictions of Vietnam-level slaughter? No, wait … that was the idiot religious extremist, the one who the soon-to-be-dead Islamists cowering in caves didn’t fear. Four months of questionable service in Vietnam 34 years ago do not a wartime President make.
    Well, maybe I’m being too harsh here. Yes, maybe the Islamists fear the flower-power peace protestor who betrayed his comrades in arms and was instrumental in sapping America’s will to fight the Vietnam War. That’s the ticket. The bloodthirsty suicidal savages shudder at the thoght of facing a comically ineffective career legislator, one who can’t muster the stones to make a clear and unequivocal statement of his position on (and plans for) the Battle of Iraq. It all makes sense to me now, after several stiff shots of Cuervo.
    Really, Scotsman, how can you expect anybody to take you seriously when you make such manifestly silly statements?

    Recruiting on the Rise

    Uh, that article’s a year and a half old. We’ve managed to kill an insuurgent or two since April 1, 2003.

    Don’t get me wrong. I think if Bush is elected he will eventually be successful in Iraq but in more of a round-a-bout messy sort of way. He lacks the most basic tenet to be a good Commander-in-chief and that is to let your commanders and troops know what the problems are so they can do what they’ve been trained to do. His political, personal and financial agendas have always gotten in the way of letting the best troops in the world do the best job they can.

    So that must mean the troops disapprove of Bush, right? Otherwise they must be idiots, since we here in America know more about the facts on the ground than do the troops in the war zone.

    The bottom-line is that many country have a lot to gain by having Iraq stabilized within the region and they can be brought to the table.

    Which nations have volunteered to step forward and shoulder the load if John Kerry wins, and what exactly will they contribute that will make a difference in winning the war?

    Watching the debates, it’s clear to see how easily Bush could alienate foreign countries.

    Unless those countries are both willing and able to chip in significantly, I don’t see how their alienation matters. Which countries will respond to John Kerry’s magic “I-have-a-plan” wand?

    Even though we have a superior fighting force we don’t have all the answers when it comes to providing a national police force or rebuilding effort. European and African nations have some of the best troops in the world for this sort of work and they will not play with Bush (or vice versa?)

    I look forward to being educated on the finer points of liberty, societal stability, and capital investment by the likes of the mainland Europeans not already in Iraq, and those paragons of civilized government in Africa.

    Lowering the empathy level for terrorists,

    Whose empathy? How will Kerry do this?

    bringing more countries into play in the rebuilding,

    Which ones? How?

    choking of financial support and weapons supply,

    President Bush has got that covered nicely, thanks. I’m put off by Kerry’s affinity for the same countries and leaders who were taking Saddam’s bribes and trading with him under the table (bravo … nice enforcement work, United Nations).

    Smart bombs are good too, just make sure you accurate intelligence and you’re not creating more sympathizes by blowing up the neighborhood grocery store.

    We do our best, but war is messy and inexact. I have a hunch that intelligence funding (especially HUMINT) might suffer just a wee lil’ bit if the good Senator has his way. After all, his record on intelligence funding leaves a lot to be desired.

    If Bush is reelected, Iraq becomes an election issue for 2008.

    Yup, as in “vote for the Republicans, who won the battles of Afghanistan and Iraq.”

  7. deadscot

    It would appear that one too many brain shavings has occurred. You can’t seriously believe that Bush is better suited to be a Commander-in-Chief than Kerry. Bush is the ultimate example of ‘The Peter Principle’. Bush did the right thing by surrounding himself with people a good deal brighter than himself. Too bad he hasn’t learned how to listen to the advice of others and another four years wouldn’t change that.
    Somehow, Bush got it through his head that when he became President he somehow became more capable and he did not. He wants to that the old school playground mentality to the world stage. I’m sure that plays well with a lot of the under-educated, and easily entertained Americans but the other half of the country realizes that it’s time to put presidential man back in office and start with global issues like the super-power that we are.
    So, for the short term (until January) the terrorist can fear the bully and come February they will begin the fear the weight a super-power will bring to bear. Vote smart, vote Kerry.

  8. Puddle Pirate

    Your failure to answer my request for the specifics of Kerry’s plan suggests that there is no plan. C’mon, Democrats. Answers, please.

  9. deadscot

    No plan? Ummm, that’s what Bush failed to have going into this mess. As far as which specific countries will come to the table after Kerry takes office, I don’t know. I do know that many countries stand to gain from a stable Iraq and we have leverage in the area. It’s a matter of finding the right buttons to push whether it be contracts, debt relief, or future Iraqi ventures. Right now all of those things are tied up in US bureaucracy.
    I doubt you’ll see any cut in intelligence funding during Kerry’s first term. If you do it will be in SIGINT or ELINT. HUMINT and IMINT will be hard to thin with all the activity taking place.
    Once again, I am not a democrat. I know many republicans are stuck in that you’re either for us or against us mentality. Oddly enough the Army Times ran an article in which they suggested that between 35%-40% of the Armed Forces will be voting for Kerry. The highest percentage to go against a republican president in history.
    Good ol’ George is good at breaking records isn’t he? Let’s see if he can set the record for the shortest concession speech come Tuesday.

  10. Puddle Pirate

    As far as which specific countries will come to the table after Kerry takes office, I don’t know.
    If you don’t know, and nobody’s coming forward, and Kerry isn’t telling us who the mighty soon-to-be allies are, then what’s the logical conclusion?

  11. Chet

    If you don’t know, and nobody’s coming forward
    Why would they come forward? Why would any country come out in support of Kerry and risk the reprisal of a vengeful second-term Bush Administration? (And let’s not kid ourselves that the Bush administration is anything but vengeful.)
    When Kerry is elected, then you’ll see who’s willing to join us now. Until then there’s no way to be sure.

  12. Puddle Pirate

    Why would they come forward? Why would any country come out in support of Kerry and risk the reprisal of a vengeful second-term Bush Administration?

    Wait … I thought the boy idiot, Chimpy SmirkSmirk McBushitler, and his evil puppetmaster Dick “Antichrist” Cheneyburton were destined to lose to John Kerry the Man of Steel. After all, our European betters all support The Nuanced One, so he’s a lock for the Oval Office. Right?

    When Kerry is elected, then you’ll see who’s willing to join us now. Until then there’s no way to be sure.

    Ahhh, a Super Sekrit Alliance of Doom™… well that changes everything. I think I’ll vote for Kerry based on your pure speculation on military matters about which you have no way to be sure.
    C’mon, let me in on the secret. Which countries have the expeditionary military capability to contribute significantly to the fight in Iraq, and are also plausibly likely to join the Kerry Koalition™?

  13. deadscot

    PP – Well until someone can officially start talking to these countries and making official deals we really won’t be able to tell who we can bring to the table and who we’ve alienated to the point of no return. Lines of communication have to be reopened.
    Chet makes a very good point, even after a Kerry victory, Bush still has a few months to make a nuisance of himself in foreign affairs.
    There’s just so much work to be done and thankfully this chapter of Curious George goes to the White House will soon be over. Kerry doesn’t have all the answers, I’ll be happy if he keeps 1/3 of his campaign promises because that will about 1/3 more than Bush kept (sans tax cut.) If you reward a dog that craps in your living room what do you expect to get? Vote smart, vote Kerry.

  14. Puddle Pirate

    You can’t wriggle off the hook that easily, boys.
    You’re a couple of sharp guys, Chet and Dead Scotsman. Enlighten my benighted conservative mind by engaging in some educated guessing, because I’d like to know which embassies to send my thank-you notes to. Which countries have the expeditionary military capability to contribute significantly to the fight in Iraq, and are also plausibly likely to join it?
    And I do mean join it on our side.

  15. Criminal Number 43

    Point #1: The E-mail address is to a hilarious political stire site (CommunistsForKerry.com).
    Point#2: You were correct about the Aussies being our staunch allies. I’ve found that if you fill ’em up with Foster’s Lager, give ’em rifles, and point them in the right direction, they get the job done right nicely.

  16. Chet

    Wait … I thought the boy idiot, Chimpy SmirkSmirk McBushitler, and his evil puppetmaster Dick “Antichrist” Cheneyburton were destined to lose to John Kerry the Man of Steel.
    I believe that he will, but it’s not a lock for either side, now is it?
    You’d be an idiot at this point to side with one side at the risk of alienating the other.
    Let me ask you this – why isn’t Canada part of the coalition? Would they be “plausibly likely” to join it? They certainly have the troops, and were a considerable aid in the first Gulf War.

  17. Puddle Pirate

    The short answer is: they can’t, nor do they want to.
    There are only 19,500 troops in the active duty Canadian Army, and they’re hardly formidable anymore. Canada’s Kerryesque politicians have left the once-proud Canada Defence Forces in sorry shape: understrength and deficit-ridden, with poorly-maintained and obsolete equipment and negligible sealift/airlift capability. They’d be hard pressed to defend their own borders, much less project power to Central Asia and the Middle East. They stretched themselves nearly to the breaking point just to send 2,000 troops to Afghanistan, and that was only grudgingly done. Sorry, Chet. Canada’s out of contention for anything beyond symbolic support, and even that’s not forthcoming if you believe their Prime Minister.
    Next contestant.

  18. Chet

    Wow. There’s a considerable discrepancy, then, between Canada’s reported forces (from your link) and their military strength as reported by their entry in Wikipedia, which lists the current size of the Regular Force as over 60,000 troops.
    Oh, by the way, there’s a mispelling in your post; you meant to say “Cheneyan“, not “Kerryesque.” You know, seeing as how Kerry has voted to increase military spending every year since 1997.
    Sorry, Chet. Canada’s out of contention for anything beyond symbolic support
    Oh, like Tonga, the Soloman Islands, and Estonia? If Canada sent 2000 troops, they’d have the third-largest troop commitment in Iraq, behind the US and the UK, and tied with Australia.
    Funny that you disregard 2000 troops from Canada as “symbolic”, but jump up our asses at the suggestion that (for instance) Albania’s 70 troops aren’t exactly a big help. Oh, did I say “funny”? I meant “disingenuous.”

  19. Chet

    Off-topic, but I’m curious – now that you know that there’s no longer any such thing as a “scientific law of Biogenesis”, at least as you formulated it, are you going to update your article “Are We Killing the Weak to Heal the Sick?” Just curious.