Monday, June 04, 2007

Emboldening Bin Laden

Can we just drop the talking point that withdrawing from Iraq will ``embolden'' the terrorists?

Worrying about ``emboldening'' Osama bin Laden is like fretting that giving Donald Trump another reality show would make him narcissistic.

Bin Laden lives in a cave. His followers are literally suicidal with hatred and rage. Boldness? That's the one thing they have in surplus. They have very little money relative to their adversaries, very few committed ``troops,'' a demonstrably unappealing philosophy, very poor public relations skills, zero territory under their control, no conventional political power and no sympathetic government behind them.


Bin Laden started his career as a terrorist by channeling his share of his family's fortune to Islamic radicals fighting against the Soviet army in Afghanistan. The mujahideen had donkeys and sandals against the Soviet helicopters, tanks and land mines. They won, though, on sheer boldness. The one thing they didn't lack was motivation and the bin Ladenists' suicidal love of killing didn't vanish with the departure of Soviet troops.

One of the sillier fables repeated about 9/11 is that bin Laden ordered the attacks because he had been ``emboldened'' by America's failure to attack Afghanistan or engage in other general warfare as a response to previous terrorist strikes in Kenya and Yemen. All evidence suggests the contrary: bin Laden knew the attacks would provoke massive retaliation from the U.S., just as he knew attacking Soviet troops in Afghanistan would prompt hellfire in response. He didn't care. He doesn't care. That kind of insanity is the only reason Al Qaeda exists.

While it is impossible to ``embolden'' Al Qaeda, it is certainly possible to empower their movement by making recruiting potential terrorists easier for them. What sets Al Qaeda and its ilk apart is primarily the suicidal intensity of its rage and hatred. This is precisely why its numbers remains so small. Recruiting is extremely difficult and requires the most desperate

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