Drudge is giving this wire story above the headline billing: “Al Qaeda says would use nuclear weapons.” Here’s the quote from Reuters:
“God willing, the nuclear weapons will not fall into the hands of the Americans and the mujahideen would take them and use them against the Americans,” Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, the leader of al Qaeda’s in Afghanistan, said in an interview with Al Jazeera television.
Al-Yazid goes on to say that AQ’s strategy remains the same: stick it to the U.S., or in typically flowery jihadi vernacular, “to hit the head of the snake, the head of tyranny–America.” He’s also offering a truce of sorts, if the U.S. meets with AQ’s demands:
The militant leader said al Qaeda would be willing to accept a truce of about 10 years’ duration with the United States if Washington agreed to withdraw its troops from Muslim countries and stopped backing Israel and the pro-Western governments of Muslim nations.
Okay, I wrote about this last week, too. How seriously should we take any of these statements? Well, we know that our national security establishment takes the first threat very seriously. Obama himself has used the threat of Al Qaeda nuclear terrorism as his justification for the escalation of the war in Afghanistan. At the same time, we don’t take Al Qaeda’s demands very seriously at all–we ignore them completely, more or less. Al Qaeda has been whining about infidels in the Muslim lands for a good fifteen years now, and our response has been to send more infidels to Muslim lands.
I’ve been a bit skeptical of AQ getting a little red button of their own. Not that the terrorist organization wouldn’t use nukes if they could get them–I just don’t think there’s a high probability of that actually happening. And it suits AQ’s propaganda interest to keep repeating the nuke threat to scare us–because it works. We’re acting scared. The Obama administration, like the Bush administration before them, seems to view nuclear terrorism as the number one threat to our national security.
As for the AQ’s demands, I’m not suggesting we abandon Israel and withdraw every U.S. soldier in Central Asia and the Middle East over night. But perhaps it makes sense to examine that possibility that if we started down that path, while continuing a vigorous, law enforcement based/intellgience anti-terror effort, we could start to make real progress in eliminating Al Qaeda, taking away the best propaganda tool they have–our pseudo-occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Would we then be appeasing the terrorists? No, we’d just be looking at terrorism against the United States in the same way we view other foreign policy issues around the globe related to terrorism. For instance, when Pakistani-linked terrorists hit India, we say “Well, that’s because of Kashmir.” When Palestinians blow themselves up at Israeli checkpoints, we say, “Well, that’s because of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and long standing historical grievances etc.” When North Irish Catholics bombed London, we’d say, “Well, that’s because of Britain’s support of the Protestants in Northern Ireland.” But when we view terrorist threats against the United States, we have a different perspective. Under Bush, this was neatly summed up in, “That’s because they hate our freedom,” or some variation of that line. Obama’s taken the politically safer path of omitting the reasons of why we’re targets for terrorism, or hinting at them, or flipping them around in rhetorical juijitsui. (In his National Security Speech from May 21, Obama stated we’re at war, and therefore we must fight in a way that upholds our most cherished values. Those values aren’t shared by our enemies; the implication that our enemies hate those values, and therefore us. So he closes Gitmo because it’s a “a rallying cry” for our enemies. But he doesn’t extend that logic to the rest of our foreign policy–the fact that sending 17,000 more troops to Muslim lands is an even bigger rallying cry, along with the continued occupation of Iraq.) In other words, even under Obama we don’t look at terrorism rationally, as if there’s a cause and effect, or we do so only in short bursts.
I’m running on here. What I’m getting at is this: what we lack in our mainstream policy debate is a reasonable perspective. It’s still a lot of fearmongering with blinders on. Perhaps we might be able to realize that terrorism is a threat to some degree–but not the civilizational threat we once imagined. And then we can look closely at the real reasons our enemies have for wanting to nuke us in the first place.