Bush and the Middle East

A moment ago, Yahoo posted a news story relating that American born al-Qaeda spokesperson, Adam Gadahn, has released a video calling for attacks on President Bush when he visits the Middle East in three days time.

During the video, he spent the first few moments speaking in Arabic, urging muslims to meet the U.S. President with bombs. The rest of his speech was in English; extremist rhetoric and finger waggling, a call for Americans, particularly veterans of Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraqi wars to repent, reflect and join Islam. During the video, he ripped up his American passport to symbolize his rejection of American citizenship.

Here in the states, Adam Gadahn is widely regarded as imbalanced, a ‘nutter’, what have you. It’s clear that his smiling warnings and nonchalant summary of all our fronts in the ‘War Against Terror’ as failures does belie a certain crazy-man zeal. I don’t imagine Adam Gadahn is what you’d call a balanced person.

However,… he has been wanted by the FBI since 2004, on counts including treason. It is now 2008. He has been given a position of certain responsibility by al-Qaeda. I am sure having a representative who is a born citizen of this country speaking against us has the intended impact of a spit-in-your-eye insult. Unfortunately, the terrorist organization is not stupid, and it is unlikely that they would put a stupid man in the public eye to deliver their messages.

While I have never been a Bush fan, and never will be a Bush fan, I felt a certain… uneasiness when I read about this message. The story states that it is a pattern of al-Qaeda to warn, and to offer their targets an opportunity to convert before launching an attack.

That’s not strictly accurate.

It is dictated in the Qur’an itself that you give your enemies the opportunity to convert before you destroy them. Al-Qaeda has been criticized by many muslim communities for waging a jihad without adhering to the rules that govern holy wars in the Qur’an.

It is worth noting when a group like al-Qaeda seems to be making an effort to follow some of the edicts set down in the Qur’an, particularly when they have undergone criticism by long-time Sunni allies who have recently turned against al-Qaeda in Iraq. Al-Qaeda has historically targeted Shiites in their insurgent attacks, but the breach with the Sunnis is a relatively new development. They have lost some of their support networks, which for a terrorist group equals political capital.

It would be easy to scoff at that, to discount any group that judges them on these behaviors when it seems so much more damning, the terror and horror they’ve inflicted on innocent citizens.

But a wave of remonstrance, even among fundamentalists toward a terror organization should be seen as a good thing. The organization’s responsiveness to that remonstrance in a statement such as Gadahn’s should be regarded seriously. They are trying to establish a positive political framework for future actions.

As an American, (and boy I’ve distanced myself from that term since it has taken on so many connotations I don’t care for in the last few years) but as an American, I am rather astonished at the gall of any person who would openly call for the assassination of the president of my country.

Whatever his flaws, George W. Bush is first and foremost a symbol. That is why the secret service protects him, that is why he would have no choice in a potentially threatening situation than to go into refuge or set aside the duties of his seat. It is the presidency, not the man, that these institutions are protecting.

And it is the President of the United States, not the man George Bush who was openly threatened by a terrorist organization today.

I must admit, I am worried about this trip to the Middle East. It is not a complete lie to say that American agendas have failed on Islamic fronts. But we have not exactly lost those battles either. A blow to the symbol of our figurehead would be a harrowing defeat of ideas and principle.

No one consulted me, naturally, but with the inherent instability of the region since the demise of Arafat, I rather question if this is an auspicious moment for our president to visit Palestinian territories in the Middle East.


4 thoughts on “Bush and the Middle East

  1. I confess that if W were killed over there, I would suspect a vast right wing conspiracy, in that it would probably give us another Republican president. He’d be a martyr or something.

    And nut jobs are scary, no matter what they are spouting.

  2. It’s always scary for everyone who visits and lives in Palestine and Israel. Believe me, I would love to visit Israel, having lived there in my youth, but have felt too afraid for years. That said, it would be a grave mistake for any president to give “power” to those making such public threats by changing his itinerary. That said, too, that’s what Bhutto said and look what happened. But I agree with J: Were Bush assassinated, is would bolster the Republicans in an election year. For that reason, for not wanting to see a Cheney presidency, for moral reasons, and all the reasons you described, I would not want to see this happen. Bush has pretty much done all the damage he’s going to do. Another year in office is a drop in the bucket. I’m really glad you posted on this important subject. The bottom line is: we all live in very scary times. A warning from Al Quaida flashes us right back to 9/11.

  3. I wonder if Bush has any fear about this trip…any presentiment…and I wonder if he has enough self awareness to realize that any fear he may feel is a small drop in the bucket compared to the fear and terror his polices have caused countless others in the Mid-East…but this is likely a worthless wonder…

    I like how you seperate this president from the office of the presidency…well done.

  4. Seems kind of brave to me, too. And I’m not a big fan. But all seems to be going well. Even the caravan. I don’t understand holding tight to any kind of hate. No matter who it’s directed at. So much better to come to the table, face to face. If people are willing to talk, they deserve to be heard. Violence? There is no sane place for it.

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