The upsetting news for our imaginary jihadist is the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States. This wasn't supposed to happen, in al-Qaeda's playbook. Its aim was to draw the "far enemy" (meaning America) ever deeper onto the battlefields of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Instead, the jihadists must cope with a president-elect who promises to get out of Iraq and whose advisers are talking about negotiating with the Taliban. And to top it off, the guy's middle name is Hussein.Was the election a brain rattler for some of the more virile anti-Americans, including jihadists? Probably. Some here are still trying to figure out how it happened. Will it alter recruitment? Maybe--it's harder to recruit if the people don't hate.
But there's one small detail missing, "Hussein" is not a Muslim. He was born of a Muslim father and adopted by a Muslim stepfather, yet turned to Christianity. That's a fairly decent recruiting tool if propagandized correctly after a few missteps. And there will be missteps when trying to play both sides, as Obama always does.
Not just that, but Ignatius has forgotten the jihadi tenets that triggered 9/11 and all the other attacks beforehand and which still generally drive the hatred: Palestine; Sha'ria law; US out of Arabia; stopping western cultural encroachment; and Israel's continued existence. Obama has a tall order to fill.
Actually, believing he'll somehow stop the GWoT just by waking up every morning in the White House is as silly as the believing Bush drove them to hate us more. Looking back at the golden age of Clinton they damn sure hated us enough to stage the 9/11 hijackers here, partially due to our sanctions on Iraq but mostly due to our continuing support of Israel.
This is largely ignored in the column, clouded by a houkaload of hopeandchange in hopes the jihadists will soon see the same light many have here. But the changing dynamic is still a mirage at this point. Truth is, unless he gives in to the Arab demands he may end up a bigger heretic than Bush or McCain could have ever hoped to become.
Ignatius does touch on one item of significance:
Our imaginary jihadist may be singing the blues as he contemplates the Obama presidency. But when he looks on the bright side, there is the global economic disaster. The financial news brings daily evidence that Allah is smiting the infidels.And what better time for a massive attack? Perhaps that's why he begs Obama to solve the financial crisis, yet odds say his approach will be through socialism rather than capitalism. History is replete with weak-kneed socialist governments capitulating to bullies for their security. Take Spain, for instance.
Not to mention that any left turns for America will likely be spun as a net victory for bin Laden just as would a hasty retreat from Iraq or a failed treaty with the Taliban. That is unless Obama will be able to somehow convince the world that a collapsed Karzai government and new training camps springing forth in the Afghanistan moonscape is a good thing.
In truth much of this new sugar plum vision can be blamed on George W. Bush for continually suppressing attacks on America these past eight years. William Ayers was recently quoted as saying Obama's election represented a rejection of the the fear of the 9/11 years, as if Bush and Cheney had manufactured all our current and past threats. People of this ilk may well be rudely reminded one day soon that this GWoT thing ain't no Cheney pipe dream.
So in reality the outlook for jihadists is anything but gloomy these days. It's actually looking relatively hopeful.