Does Al Queda Have An Election Strategy?

Has it occurred to anyone else that Al Queda may have an election strategy for the USA? Maybe a string of mass-casualty suicide bombings, à la Madrid, six weeks or so before the presidential election?

What would be the likely political impact on the electorate? Rally behind Bush & Co.? I don’t think so, really. Here’s what I think might happen:

1. Public shock.

2. 24/7 media replays of the carnage for weeks on end. There’s a symbiotic relationship between terrorists and the media; they depend on each other to a degree. In this case, the NYT, WaPo, LAT, CNN, etc, would view it as a political godsend, in addition to its being a ‘good’ news story. Sad – even pathetic – to say, but true. Traitors.

3. Interviews with victims’ families, friends, former school teachers, co-workers, witnesses, clergy, etc. on network TV.

4. Questions will be raised about continued failures at the intelligence agencies and the Department of Homeland Security.

5. Questions will be raised about the ‘relationship’ between a rise in US terrorism and the war in Iraq.

6. John Kerry will ask, “Are you safer today than you were four years ago?”

7. France, Germany, et al will say in somber tones – crocodile tears streaming down their faces into their cabernet sauvignons and lagers – “See! We told you so!”

8. Our Middle-Eastern allies will tell us it’s our own fault. Graphic posters of the event will go on sale within days throughout the PA territory and in bazaars in Pakistan. President (for life) Mubarak of Egypt will recite platitudes about US “failures” to resolve the Israeli/Pali conflict and our imperialist imposition of foreign ideas on the traditional Arab societies. He will explain this to us as our ‘friend’. Nothing like being lectured on political morality by the dictator of a failed state. He will do it for our own good, you see.

9. Al Queda will issue a truce offer to the US: Withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan and the martyrs will no longer strike at the US.

10. Ted Kennedy will demand we accept.

It could be enough to throw the election. Especially if there’s a simultaneous uptick in suicide bombings in Iraq. We know how AQ likes simultaneity. A coordinated campaign like that might just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. From AQ’s point of view, it’s the smart move. A strategic move. Personally, I’ll be watching for it. And waiting for it.

14 thoughts on “Does Al Queda Have An Election Strategy?”

  1. Michael,

    You forgot to add “Traitor.” to the end of items #6 and #10. Otherwise an excellent although disturbing post. Thanks.

    Jim English

  2. Well, I’ve been pondering this for a long year now. I don’t have any conclusions.


    I think that for 72 hours to a week after, Americans will be looking at the Bush admin and saying, “It was YOUR job to keep this from happening!”. Hard to argue with.

    But what happens after that 72 hours / week? Then America says to Kerry, “You’ve got our attention, what’s your plan?”

    And what’s he gonna do? His party (as much an issue as he himself), has been adamantly griping about the Patriot Act. What now? Are they going to militantly secure the borders? Even the GOP won’t do that (now), but will the Democrats? Are they willing to racially profile Middle Eaterners and/or Muslims? What are you prepared to do outside this nation, if the French don’t want you to?

    So, now that we all hate Bush for failing to protect us, just what is Kerry et al going to say about all of the above? If his party makes a 180 degree turn on all of the above, are you and I going to trust that? Would they not basically be…. Republicans…. on a lot of things?

    Look for such attacks (God may they not happen) to benefit Democrats for…. a week. But after that, I’m not so sure.

  3. I expect such attacks also, but at the Olympics, not in the U. S.; much softer target, reachable by ground routes, much closer to friendly support groups.

    Your analysis and the comments ignore the President’s response, both domestic and international. That will be critical in determining the electorate’s response. Bush does not have a great track record of leading the public. But neither did FDR. Only if it is way out of line can Kerry attack Bush’s response without risking looking unpatriotic.

    The election is still determined by the electoral college. Most of the electorate seems to have made up its mind earlier and more firmly than in the past. The NYT, LAT, WaPo all address audiences that are firmly blue. If they get bluer, that doesn’t get them more votes in the electoral college.

    My bet is that such an attack would increase voter turnout. In the swing states, these additional voters are more likely to be Jacksonians who might otherwise skip the election and will vote for Bush if he takes strong action in retaliation.

    This is Jihad. No truces. It would kill recruitment. Each taste of blood leaves them wanting more. Besides, who has enough control of Al-Qaeda to enforce such a truce?

    What it would do is leave the blues bluer and the reds redder with four years of bitter debate in a narowly divided government.

    Then, Hillary to the rescue.

  4. The thing to remember is that we’ve been subconsciously expecting it to happen again for the past 3 years so I doubt the public would be as shocked by it as we were by 9/11. That’s one reason why it’d probably be a bad idea for them to assume that we would react the way the Spanish would (Which would probably be the model they’d use in trying to influence the election). My own bet is that doing such an attack won’t stampede the voters so much as just get them angrier and would cause a few previously firm blues to turn red.

    If I were the Al Qaedas I’d just wait until after the election before I moved lest I get a result I don’t want. The sort of attacks I’d run if Bush is re-elected are different from the ones I’d run if Kerry won.

  5. May I suggest to keep your great ideas for terrorist attacks to yourself? The ever creative AQ doesn’t need our help in this kind of brain-storming.

  6. I understand your point and your concern. However, they certainly didn’t need any pointers on exactly how to influnce the election in Spain, did they?

    What makes us think they don’t have a plan for us?

  7. Go to LGF, the Iranians have their own plans for US.

    This might be over sooner than I thought.

  8. I would have thought that if they were smart enough to pull off another massacre they would also be smart enough not to do it, but it looks like there is some room between the two.

    There is a very insightful article by Marcus Gee dated September 12, 2001. In it, he predicted that the US would rise up angry and go to war; with others if possible, alone if necessary. He ends with a quote from FDR, but I think the context was different from what he describes. My understanding is that one of his aides was theorizing that Japan had hoped to shock the US into seeking peace on Japan’s terms. FDR was astonished, saying “What kind of people do they think we are?”

    The article cites the source of the prediction as John Thompson of the Mackenzie Institute. There’s lots of other good stuff there.

  9. A U.S. attack would redden the reds and that’s enough for Bush to win. But…

    It’s not going to happen in the U.S., but overseas. I doubt the Olympics will be targeted. Look for western financial institutions to be hit in S.E. asia.


  10. Some one mentioned London on one news network. It’s possible, but I think only if the attack was excedingly destructive. Further weakening the coalition would hurt us most, and Bush politically.

  11. A massive attack in London could lead to a tactical alliance between the left part of Labor and the Tories and Lib Dems to give Blair a no confidence vote to get rid of him. I could see that happening.

    I don’t know if no attacks have occurred as a matter of necessity or choice from our enemies. I think it is choice. I think they want to do something massive. I think this post is about right as to how it would play out. A few weeks rather than a few days before the election would probably be optimum for the enemy to secure a Kerry victory.

  12. The sort of attacks I’d run if Bush is re-elected are different

    this is an interesting concept. there are two ideas that come to mind, to me. either a long-drawn out series of attacks. call them minor skirmishes in the war on terror. maybe they do not cost alot in effort/personel commitment. but in an extended time frame they could tip the scale in a close election.

    on the other hand, a single, concentrated effort could be another motivation to become hawkish. W could make a strong stand and ride the wave.

    either way, i do think that the electoral college is the buffer from this.

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