Friday, October 29, 2004

The October Surprise

This is a developing story and I reserve the right to alter this post as more information becomes available.

So...four days now until the election, who should enter the debate? Why, it's our old friend Osama bin Laden. Okay, now, don't go all ballistic on me, I know he's not our "friend." It's an expression. I was in Manhattan on September 11, 2001. You don't have to tell me, okay? I will never forget.

But it seems even al Qaeda has gotten sick of the campaign rhetoric. They're tired of being misrepresented. Today they released a video directly rebutting Dick Cheney's repeated assertion that a vote for Kerry is a vote for the terrorists.

"Your security is not in the hands of (Democratic candidate John) Kerry or Bush or al-Qaida. Your security is in your own hands,'' bin Laden said, according to the New York Times.

Bin Laden rejected Bush's repeated characterization that al Qaeda fights us because they hate freedom. "If Bush says we hate freedom, let him tell us why we didn't attack Sweden, for example," the terrorist explained.

I confess I was worried when I say the breaking news headlines saying there was a new tape from bin Laden. First of all, I live in Manhattan. Welcome to life in the bull's eye, living in the crosshairs of terrorism every day of your existence. I don't particularly enjoy it when threats, or even rumors of them, are made. I confess that the threat of an attack worried me that iffy voters, if any still exist, could decide that the more "decisive" Bush would be the better choice against this enemy.


Look at this picture. It's bizarre, isn't it? It sure doesn't look like he's in a cave hooked up to a dialysis machine. This man is somewhere, and he seems to be doing fine. He doesn't look like he's on the run at all. In fact, he's giving a speech on U.S. foreign policy.

"To the U.S. people, my talk is to you about the best way to avoid another disaster,'' he said. "I tell you: security is an important element of human life and free people do not give up their security.''

Now, here we have one of the greatest mass-murderers in history, speaking more plainly to an American audience about the nature of security than either of our two candidates for President. It's probably too late, but had this tape surfaced earlier, perhaps it would have forced our candidates to have a legitimate discussion of al Qaeda's motives. Bush would have us think they are cartoon villains who are "evil." Yes, they're bad people. They've murdered thousands of innocents. But they're not doing it for shits and giggles. They have clearly defined geo-strategic goals. It's no mystery what al Qaeda really wants to accomplish, and it's not getting American women to wear burqhas. "Our patience ran out and we saw the injustice and inflexibility of the American-Israeli alliance toward our people in Palestine and Lebanon," explained the al Qaeda leader, plain as day. Yet our political discourse is at such a level of banality that the real issues facing the U.S. and its national security aren't even being discussed. As grotesque as it is to have to say it, we owe bin Laden a thank you for injecting a reality check, belated as it may be.

If my blog were widely read, of course I'd be receiving death threats in 5...4...3...2...but it's not, so hopefully I'm okay.

The point is, Bush didn't take his eye off the ball. He never knew what the ball was. If we want to defeat terrorism, we can't do it with a bomb. It only plays into their beliefs about America and creates more terrorists. I'm not saying "appease" them, either. Has nothing to do with that. It has to do with winning the hearts and minds of the people in the Arab world. Unfortunately, Bush doesn't realize that they're not dummies. They can't be hoodwinked into thinking America is on their side, as hundreds of innocent Iraqis perish every week. It has to do with addressing the real needs in this part of the world, and approaching them in a culturally sensitive way. We do not need to remake the world in the image of America. But we need to do something that is utterly altruistic in the region, find some act of kindness and generosity that legitimately benefits these people more than it benefits ourselves, especially financially. Integrity, honesty, friendship...these are values that transcend every culture.

May God help us all, including our leaders, whoever they may be, to achieve real and lasting peace in this world.

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