Monday, November 13, 2006

The "Al Qaeda cheers the Democrats' victory" meme

Among conservative responses to the Democrats' victory, this undoubtedly qualifies as the most pathetic: gloating over an audio tape by Abu Ayyub al-Masri, leader of the Al Qaeda in Iraq, welcoming the Democrats' victory in the midterm elections. John Hinderaker at Powerline inquires:

Do the Democrats feel at all sheepish at having their victory hailed by al Qaeda? Do they feel any pressure to demonstrate to the American people that they are not a de facto ally of the terrorists? Not as far as we've noticed so far. But when the Democrats stop celebrating, they may want to pause long enough to consider a simple question: Why are the terrorists so happy that they won?

H/T: John Cole.

Hinderaker goes on to invite his readers to "contribute your thoughts on why the Democrats are the terrorists' favorite party, and why they--so far, anyway--don't seem to mind."


(For more of the sort, see Protein Wisdom.)

Captain's Quarters has a great response, titled, "Not going to bite."

Actually, Zarqawi's successor had a lot more to say about America and Americans. He also called George Bush the "most stupid President" in history, and he requested that Bush stick around in Iraq because AQ terrorists hadn't killed their fill of Americans. It's the kind of stupid rant that makes radical Islamists and their sympathizers swoon with delight, but is filled with hyperbole and crude attempts at psychological warfare and propaganda.


Radical Islamists want to divide Americans in order to defeat us. They will play on our differences, stoking the fires of resentment and generating more hatred between us than we have against our enemies. AQ understands that the only way they can possibly beat the US is to get us to grind to a halt with partisan warfare at home, paralyzing our ability to fight them on the battlefield and sapping our will to put them out of business. This video is transparently calculated to give enough ammunition to both sides of the political divide to do that job. Besides, if we take Abu Hamza at his word about the Democrats, then we have to take him at his word about Bush as well, and about our troops.

... We've already had the election, and the Democrats are in charge -- and they will be for two years no matter what. Obviously, we will watch closely to ensure that they do not surrender to terrorism, but I'm not going to take Abu Hamza's word that they will before their majority session even starts. They are Americans, and Americans put them in charge, and they have earned the right to show us how they will face the enemy now that they control the agenda. If they fail, I'll be the first to castigate them for losing ground to the terrorists. ...

The reality is that we cannot win the war on terror without the Democrats after these midterm elections. Rather than continue with antagonizing rhetoric, we'd better find ways to engage them rationally in this effort if we want to survive. I'm hoping we can find common ground with them now that they have the responsibility to govern. If we can't, then let's criticize them for their actual failures, and not get so intent on grasping at any way to attack them that we start becoming repeater stations for the ravings of genocidal lunatics.

See also Captain Ed's follow-up, "Still Not Biting."

At least for me, this is as good a litmus test as any to separate conservatives I respect from ideologues who traffic in knee-jerk partisan rhetoric.

Shortly before the elections, on CNN, Lynne Cheney ripped into Wolf Blitzer for airing a video made by the Iraqi insurgents that showed the shooting of American soldiers, asking such questions as, "why are you running terrorist propaganda?" and "Why do you give the terrorists the floor?" Perhaps the right-wing bloggers who are using al-Masri's statement to paint the Democrats as de facto allies of the terrorists should be asked the same question: Why are you amplifying terrorist propaganda? Why, in the apt words of Captain Ed, are you serving as repeater stations for the ravings of genocidal lunatics?

More: In the comments, Joan points out that I recently criticized Lynn Cheney for accusing CNN of "running terrorist propaganda," and asks if I'm saying that it's proper to level the same accusation at those who use the al-Masri video to imply that the Democrats are terrorist-friendly. Actually, I was making a "sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander" point. But I think there is a major difference between airing a terrorist propaganda tape, clearly labeled as such, for its news value, and using a terrorist's propaganda statement to accuse fellow Americans of being allies to the terrorists. Nor do I think that any American has any obligation to refute such a statement.


Joan said...

A few posts ago, you strongly implied it was objectionable for Lynne Cheney to grill Wolf Blitzer over CNN's airing of the terrorist tape, even though Blitzer himself admitted the tape was propaganda. Now you seem to be saying that Cheney did the right thing in critizing CNN for giving the propaganda so much airplay -- at least insofar as you're recommending that conservatives who're discussing Al Qaeda's remarks come in for a drubbing for doing so. Which is it?

Context is everything. When CNN showed the tapes, my impression is that it was in the "America's losing" context. (I didn't see the broadcast.) When conservatives discuss Al Qaeda's response to the election, they're not praising or agreeing with the terrorists, they're asking pointed questions of the Democrats, which so far have not been answered -- witness Pelosi's "It's not a war to be won" statement.

I think a strong response to Al Qaeda's statement from the Democrats would be spectacular. I don't question Democrats' patriotism, but I question their judgement with regards to the war. Those calling for immediate withdrawal have become the voice of the party, whether or not that accurately reflects the majority of Democrats' views. It is not unreasonable for those of us who worry about the catastrophic problems that would result from the US leaving Iraq hastily to be concerned about our direction there. The Democrats would sacrifice long-term security for short-term peace. Appeasement never works, and they should know that by now.

Anonymous said...

I'd be more impressed with Republican criticism of Democratic timidity if the GOP or the Administration had ever shown the tiniest glimmer of real strategic thought in this whole dismal episode. They're not asking "pointed questions" - they're just braying about Al Qaeda nonsense to distract attention from their own wretched record.

Keeping large numbers of US troops in the middle of a Iraqi civil war strikes me as utterly pointless. We cannot enforce any "desired" political outcome without actively taking sides, whether with the Kurdish separatists, Shia miliitas or Sunni extremists. This course of action could be far more disastrous than any "cut-and-run" scenario could ever be, as it would tie up the greater part of the US Army and Marine Corps for years, complete the devastation of the country and severely hamper any efforts by the major parties to hammer out a workable modus vivendi.

It's time to stop pretending that any real central government exists in Iraq, encourage a rough-and-ready partition settlement and get the hell out of there.

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