Friday, July 09, 2004

Al Qaeda's October Surprise 

The media reports that "[t]he US is tightening security in the face of a steady stream of intelligence indicating al-Qaeda may seek to mount an attack aimed at disrupting elections." Presumably by sabotaging the voting machines in Florida so that they don't punch clear holes through the ballots.

The story is illustrated with a picture of beaming Kerry and Edwards with arms around each other, and a caption: "High profile... will terrorists target John Kerry and John Edwards during their US presidential campaign?" Only if they are really really stupid.

And depending on what al Qaeda actually wants to achieve - a strategic or a symbolic objective. Al Qaeda seems to have smarted up recently, choosing to attack the weakest links, like Spain, in order to achieve clear political and military objectives (weakening the Coalition in Iraq, putting strains on Western alliances). From that point of view, attacking the US is not a good idea. In any arrangement, America is the strongest link; its people tend to rally around the President when under attack. Unless al Qaeda wants to take a gamble that months of relentless media commentary about Bush being too distracted by Iraq to focus on the war on terror will bear fruit, and that Americans, when reminded by another spectacular terrorist attack, will take it out on the incumbent who took his eyes off the ball.

But if al Qaeda is after a symbolic objective - hey, see? we're still alive and can smack you on the head whenever we want to! -then perhaps both Kerry and Edwards should be starting to get worried about their election-winning hair.


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