Friday, October 10, 2008

The Power of Nightmares 3

When Osama Bin Laden intervened in the US election four years ago, I thought it was pretty obvious he knew this would benefit Bush. See my post The Power of Nightmares (October 2004).

Turns out I wasn't alone in thinking Bin Laden wanted Bush to win. Apparently the CIA took the same view. Rany Jazayerli now asks Will Bin Laden Strike Again?

We don't even have to speculate whether Bin Laden is still alive, because the effect would be pretty much the same even if it was only his associates putting out a suitable message in his name. It's the brand image that counts.

Rany makes no claims to comprehend the mind of a terrorist, and I don't either. However, I don't imagine they'd just repeat what they did last time. Doesn't terrorism have to have an element of surprise?

And doesn't terrorism also have to have some purpose? If Bin Laden follows the American opinion polls, he may conclude that the election is beyond influence; so he might prefer to wait until after the election and then send a message to the new president. Terrorists have certainly done this kind of thing before. In July 2007 Gordon Brown was faced with a terrorist incident two days after becoming Prime Minister. As I said at the time (Timing and Regime Change), the underlying message seemed to be that, in the eyes of the terrorists, nothing had changed. If the terrorists are really trying to provoke America into further war, they may have a marginal preference for the Republicans, simply because in recent years the Republicans have proved easier to provoke, but that surely isn't going to stop them trying to provoke a Democrat administration as well.

Meanwhile, if a mysterious video does appear just before election day, it may be hard to avoid the suspicion that this is a carefully designed fake. Cui Bono?

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