Monday, November 01, 2004

bin Laden's new rhetoric

Juan Cole on bin Laden's change of message -
I wonder if Bin Laden has heard from the field that his association with the authoritarian Taliban has damaged recruitment in the Arab world and Iraq, where most people want an end to dictatorship and do not want to replace their secular despots with a religious one. The elections in Pakistan (fall 2002) and Afghanistan went better than he would have wanted, and may have put pressure on him. He may now be reconfiguring the rhetoric of al-Qaeda, at least, to represent it as on the side of political liberty. I am not saying this is sincere or might succeed; both seem to me highly unlikely. I am saying that it is interesting that Bin Laden now seems to feel the need to appeal to this language. In a way, it may be one of the few victories American neo-Wilsonianism has won, to push Bin Laden to use this kind of language. I doubt it amounts to much.
Faint praise for Bush but coming from someone as anti-Bush as Cole it's significant.

If Bush's Freedom and Democracy rhetoric has forced even extremists such as bin Laden to couch their message to the Arab world in similar language then that is a major development and an indication that Bush's message has resonance.

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