Archive for May, 2011

Osama’s jihadist dreams died before he did

WASHINGTON — Osama bin Laden lived long enough to see a widespread revolt among Arabs who want nothing to do with his murderous philosophy or his twisted, despotic version of Islam. He knew that his vision for a 7th century caliphate was already dead.

No one knows how the uprisings that started in Tunisia and set off pro-democracy protests across the Arab world will end. The oppressive Syrian government has cracked down brutally; Libya seems bogged down in stalemate, unable to rid itself of the tyrant Ghaddifi. There is more hope for democratic institutions to break through in a country such as Egypt, with a long tradition of a functioning civil society.

Whatever the eventual outcome, though, none of those home-grown uprisings owe allegiance to bin Laden or al-Qaida. There are certainly conservative Islamists among the protestors; it would be naïve to think they wouldn’t be represented.

But they have been just one faction among many. The so-called Arab spring has been …

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Obama walks (and talks) softly, carries a big stick

With the outbreak of turmoil in the Middle East, conservatives have found fresh reasons to attack President Obama on national security issues. Some Republicans, notably Sen. John McCain, want Obama to attack more forcefully in Libya.
Others, including conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, have developed a new meme: Obama “leads from behind,” a style Krauthammer blasts as “ad hoc, erratic and ineffective.”
UPDATE: Political Wire has unearthed a 2008 quote from the impetuous McCain, who said back then that he would not go into Pakistan after Osama bin Laden. McCain told Larry King, “Larry, I’m not going to go there and here’s why: because Pakistan is a sovereign nation.”

The death of Osama bin Laden, in a raid executed under Obama’s explicit leadership, ought to quell that sort of foolish talk permanently. But it won’t. In about a week, conservatives will find a way to suggest that Obama’s leadership on foreign policy is weak.
That’s due to several factors, one being the …

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