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.
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.
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.
Ralph Peters (NY Post)
Mark Steyn (and yet again)
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)