Bill Kristol has an item up about the bin Laden tape. He points to the MEMRI translation and observes that it's pretty clear that bin Laden is (a) trying to interfere in the election and (b) influence people against Bush. The bin Laden offer seems to be, if your state goes for Kerry, you're safe; if it goes for Bush, you're not safe. A few observations.
(1) Bin Laden's offer is almost certainly disingenuous. Taken at face value, it would mean that New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. are all going to be removed from the al Qaeda target list. Fat chance.
(2) Bin Laden's appeal displays an impressive--and worrisome--amount of political sophistication about American politics. Just 25 years ago, Islamist terrorists weren't capable of telling the difference between France and America, let alone Reagan and Carter. We were all the same Great Satan, so far as they were concerned. Today, they're smart enough to understand that they should kill preemptive-strike hawks second, global-test multilateralists third, and U.N.-style appeasers fourth. The Jews, for course, come first. Don't they always.
(3) There is a considerable silver lining to the bin Laden tape: proof of life. Lot's of people have speculated over bin Laden's status during the last few years and one prevailing line of thought was that he was dead in a cave somewhere, buried under tons of rock, unbeknownst to his followers, and with no possibility of ever recovering his remains. In a certain way, we should be relieved that this is not the case.
If bin Laden had died quietly, we would have had to deal with his ghost for the next 40 years. Without proof of his death, the Islamists would have used his specter whenever possible to take credit for attacks, recruit new terrorists, rally the faithful, and worse--distract American intelligence. An unprovably-dead bin Laden would have forced us to waste massive financial and intelligence resources hunting for someone who wasn't there.
Now that we know bin Laden is alive, hopefully whoever is president on January 20 will redouble our efforts to bring him in--dead, or not alive.
12 hours ago