Friday, October 29, 2004

Bin Laden's new speech 

The new Bin Laden tape is interesting because it proves that he is alive -- which was something of an open question, insofar as we haven't seen a verified tape of Bin Laden since December 2001 -- and because of its timing. He clearly wants to influence the American election, or at least be seen as able to influence our election in the Muslim world.

More interesting, though, is what he did not say:
It is important to notice what he has stopped saying in this speech. He has stopped talking about the restoration of the Global Caliphate. There is no more mention of the return of Andalusia. There is no more anticipation that Islam will sweep the world. He is no longer boasting that Americans run at the slightest wounds; that they are more cowardly than the Russians. He is not talking about future operations to swathe the world in fire but dwelling on past glories. He is basically saying if you leave us alone we will leave you alone. Though it is couched in his customary orbicular phraseology he is basically asking for time out. (emphasis in original)

Is not this strategic retreat by omission the most interesting aspect of this story?

UPDATE: Orin Kerr makes the point that Bin Laden's admission trashes the paranoid belief among many Arabs (a quarter of Palestinians, according to Kerr) that Israel was behind the attacks on September 11 in order to lure the United States into war in the Middle East. The question is whether Arab conspiracy theorists will actually believe Bin Laden.


By Blogger Rob, at Sat Oct 30, 12:00:00 AM:

Please note that the bin Laden tape is edited. We have yet to see the full version, courtesy the Sultan of Qatar.  

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