Tuesday, September 11, 2007

It's Tuesday again

It's 9/11, and the internet is wide awake.

Gary Kamiya over at Salon.com is thinking about "the real lessons" of 9/11. This is a good piece because it takes the long view of how 9/11 has been used for political ends, places it in historical perspective, and incisively articulates the sense of determinism that has characterized post-9/11 foreign policy.
Petraeus' evaluation can only be "anxiously awaited" by people who are still anxiously waiting for Godot. We know what will happen next because we've been watching this movie for eight months. Gen. Petraeus, Bush's mighty-me, will insist that we're making guarded progress. Bush, whose keen grasp of military reality is reflected in his recent boast that "we're kicking ass" in Iraq, will promise that he will reassess the situation in April. The Democrats will flail their puny arms, the zombie Republicans will keep following orders, and the troops will stay.
. . .

Sept. 11 is a totemic date for the Bush administration. It justifies everything, explains everything, ends all argument. It is the crime that must be eternally punished, the wound that can never heal, the moral high ground that can never be taken.
Slate.com is laying off the 9/11 story and examining the new bin Laden video, "before it is forgotten in the coming debate on Gen. David Petraeus' Iraq report." This piece is slightly alarmist; Anne Applebaum worries that al-Qaida's new turn in public relations could seduce westerners, the consequences of which, she says, would be horrific.
Real or fake, the message might still hint at the direction in which al-Qaida propaganda, or at least al-Qaida propaganda designed for the Western market, is now heading. In a recent Slate piece, Reza Aslan eloquently described how the organization's list of alleged "grievances"—which now include global warming, corporate capitalism, and African poverty, as well as the American bases in Saudi Arabia—weave "local and global resentments into a single anti-American narrative, the overarching aim of which is to form a collective identity across borders and nationalities." But the narrative clearly isn't meant for only the Arab world. On the contrary, perhaps it's time to take the main message seriously: Clearly, al-Qaida's long-term goal is to convert Americans and other Westerners to its extreme version of Islam.
See yesterday's post on the new bin Laden video here.

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