Wretchard at the Belmont Club posted a provocative analysis of the Osama bin Laden tape yesterday, linked today at Power Line, which considers the measured tone and reasonableness of OBL a signal to the US of surrender:
It is important to notice what he has stopped saying in this speech. He has stopped talking about the restoration of the Global Caliphate. There is no more mention of the return of Andalusia. There is no more anticipation that Islam will sweep the world. He is no longer boasting that Americans run at the slightest wounds; that they are more cowardly than the Russians. He is not talking about future operations to swathe the world in fire but dwelling on past glories. He is basically saying if you leave us alone we will leave you alone. Though it is couched in his customary orbicular phraseology he is basically asking for time out.
That’s an attractive analysis, as is Wretchard’s response, in which he adheres to the Unconditional Surrender camp. However, I don’t buy that Osama wants to send an “I’m OK, You’re OK” offer to the Americans. Wretchard makes a great point in that the portion of the tape played by Al-Jazeera; OBL passed on the fiery rhetoric and the usual insults to take a more moderate tone. Where Wretchard and I disagree is OBL’s motivation for doing so.
Far from signaling a surrender, I believe that OBL wants to influence the American elections as another demonstration of his power. He wants to depose George Bush, but he’s smart enough to understand that a fire-breathing performance only helps Bush by scaring/insulting the voters. His moderate performance was designed to appeal to the reasonable leftists and centrists who tend to believe that America brought Islamist terror onto itself. His “offer” amounts to a lever with which to promote anti-Israel sentiment to undercut support for Bush, as well as give people the impression that the war is Bush’s fault, despite the years of Al Qaeda attacks on American assets.
Don’t allow yourselves to be fooled into thinking that Osama has retreated in his desire to reconquer Andalusia and spread the ummah across the globe, reducing the infidels to dhimmitude. He just knows when to temper his rhetoric for the best possible political result.