Shock the Vote

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Why are we back to the "pre-election" terror canard? Does anyone, anywhere know for certain what effect another attack on U.S. soil would do to the presidential race? Do we know for certain that al Qaeda prefers Kerry to Bush, or vice versa? What would be the strategic goal of such an attack then?

It is not as if Kerry has pledged to bring U.S. troops back from Iraq should he win. Continuing down the path of isolating the U.S. from its allies suggests not an attack on the U.S., which may well recreate the international support and compassion 9/11 produced, but an attack on another U.S. ally.

Am I missing something or should electors be very afraid? Anyone, anyone? Bueller?

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  1. Do we know for certain that al Qaeda prefers Kerry to Bush, or vice versa?

    Does it matter? All A.Q. has to do is sit back and watch partisan hatred tear this country apart from the inside out. However, I bet they are leaning to a real tight and all too close Kerry victory with plenty of voting irregularities.

    I say we blind side A.Q. and elect Badnarik or even Nader! 😉

  2. I don’t anticipate a terrorist attack on the United States prior to the election. I think they’re probably pretty happy with us right now.

  3. “What would be the strategic goal of such an attack then?”

    Just to be a general pain-in-the-ass and to thumb their noses at us, like all the others were. Of course, as my own explanation implies, this can be accomplished anytime. But one imagines, as s.a.m. more dramatically points out, they might think they can get more vitriolic nuisance value out of election time attack. But who knows. I can’t claim to entirely understand how their minds work.

  4. “What would be the strategic goal of such an attack then?”

    Are we yet clear as to what, exactly, Al Qaeda was trying to accomplish by attacking us on 9/11? Were they trying to make us withdraw from the Middle East or were they trying to provoke a US invasion? Osama bin Laden couldn’t have known how we would react to 9/11, and Al Qaeda can’t know for certain how we’ll react if they attack us right before the election.

  5. (I tried posting this once already and it hasn’t shown up after checking a few times. I apologize in advance if this double-posts, but I made a good faith effort to verify that it didn’t post before trying again.)

    It’s possible that the terrorists might actually want another 4 years of Bush. As paradoxical as that sounds, if your goal is to create a “clash of civilizations” then it helps to have a hawk in the White House. Ultra-radical lunatics of various types will sometimes say that the only way for their cause to advance is if things get worse before they get better. Obviously that’s a crazy notion, but so is flying an airplane into a building.

    Now, before the hawks jump all over me, it’s equally possible that the terrorists want the candidate perceived as more dovish. There are plenty of reasons why they might want that. Not being a homicidal lunatic, I don’t know whether they want an opponent perceived as weaker, or an opponent who (they think) will help them with their “clash of civilizations.”

    As far as how the public would react, I suspect that the initial response would be to rally around the flag and support the candidate perceived as more hawkish. If a terrorist attack happens close enough to the election the most likely effect is obviously to help Bush.

    However, it’s also likely that after the initial “rally around the flag” stage, people will engage in the time-honored tradition of finding a scapegoat. George Bush, being the incumbent President, will be an obvious target. He’s been in charge, so they’ll ask “Why didn’t he do something?!?!?!” Now, some of the finger-pointing and whatnot would probably be disingenuous and hypocritical, but it would happen. And that would hurt Bush.

    I don’t know how long it would take before the “rally around the flag” stage ended and the “let’s blame somebody!” stage began. I don’t think anybody can predict that with confidence. That’s why I don’t subscribe to any “wag the dog” theories about a terrorist attack before the election.

    So, to make a long story short, I don’t think anybody can really predict when homicidal lunatics will attack.

  6. In a shocking development, I imagine people’s ability to read al Qaeda’s mind winds up confirming what they already believe. If you want Bush reelected, then the terrorists love Kerry, etc.

    Though for my $.02 I’d say if I were Osama, I’d want 4 more years of Bush. A strategic bungler of his magnitude doesn’t come along very often. If they timed a terrorist attack just right, the “rally round the president” effect would get Bush reelected, easily. The election is still almost tied. A 5% or 10% boost the polls would be all that is necessary.

  7. I don’t think the homacidal lunatics care either way who wins. It’s not as if one side or the other is calling for an immediate forced conversion of all citizens to Islam and declaration of war on Israel, so AQ isn’t going to get what they want from either side. At the end of the day, the only major difference is that Kerry is promising not to get us into another war unless we are attacked while Bush is reserving the right to exercise his judgement to move unilaterally again.

  8. I wouldn’t expect a pre-election attack that would discredit the War on Terror and therefore Bush. I’d guess AQ would love for Bush to launch another misguided little adventure to turn the world against him and divide the USA.

    A 9/11 scale attack on the USA (still very feasible) would completely humiliate Bush and prevent him from making any more missteps.

    “Never interrupt an enemy while he is making a mistake.”
    -Napoleon Bonaparte

  9. If the Islamists believe their own rhetoric, then presumably they think both candidates are agents of the Elders of Zion.

  10. A number of points:
    A) “I’d want 4 more years of Bush. A strategic bungler of his magnitude doesn’t come along very often. If they timed a terrorist attack just right, the “rally round the president” effect would get Bush reelected, easily. The election is still almost tied. A 5% or 10% boost the polls would be all that is necessary.”- Yepper, Strategic Bungler of his magnitude, that’s why Usama is living, if he’s alive at all, in a cave in Pakistan, after having been driven out of his stronghold in Afghanistan. After first seeing his allies and sponsors the Taliban crushed and them replaced by an interim government that is well on it’s way to instituting elections, multi-party, multi-ethnic, elections involving men AND women. Yes, this bungler did something that hasn’t been accomplished in abut 150 years, defeating the Afghans.
    The of course, there is the replacement of the nasty fellow in Baghdad and the liberation of another 26 million folks. The place where probably 75% of the population is happy with the replacement and where Syria and Iran are extremely nervous about THEIR futures. Yes sir, give me bungling like this.
    Of course, Dubya isn’t a genius like Clinton or Kerry or Carter, but he IS effective unlike the last three men. They were policy wonks and understood a lot, but never really achieved much.

    B) Yes I think that AQ and Usama DO care who is elected. I believe they too, operate under the ABB (Anyone But Bush) Principle. I’m sure they’d prefer Badnarik/Nader, then Buchanan, and then Kerry. Using Rational Choice, I’m sure they’d support Kerry, he’s the only opponent that can win. Kerry’s position is “nuanced”, i.e. he’s a Flip-Flopper. He can be seen to be saying he supported the war against Saddam or that it is the Wrong War at the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time. At a minimum there would be NO change and at a maximum there will be a US withdrawl.
    Now will an attack deliver the vote, I doubt it, BUT determining the decision-making of AQ et. al. is certainly beyond me. Personally, I’d say yes they’d love to attack the US, even if only to hurt the US and damage the US’ credibility

  11. Fine, Joe. We finally have a president with balls. We are also running half trillion dollar deficits, are coercing reservists into going into Iraq and still have Iran, Syria, N Korea and China to deal with. We’ve cancelled most treaties having to do with ABMs, are exploring small nukes to use on miscreants and are hustling out a star wars system to defend us against suicide bombers. Every major country is now building up their military and are accelerating their nuke programs to avoid getting attacked (we only go after the non-nuke countries). Not too long ago the Berlin wall came down, economic prosperity was upon us and the world embraced our ideals. Now, most of the civilized world is fed up with us.

    I just love a president with balls.

  12. Where’s “crimethink”?
    Isn’t he, as his name implies, able to answer questions like this?

    Here’s my stab: I see the violence just getting worse in Iraq.
    Dubya is always bragging about how smart he is to be fighting terrorists “over there.” Well, to most terrorists, Iraq is their “over there” too, and Americans are sitting ducks in that Green Zone.

  13. [We] still have Iran, Syria, N Korea and China to deal with.

    Yep. And Kerry isn’t going to deal with them, which means we’re stuck with Bush for four years.

    We’ve cancelled most treaties having to do with ABMs

    Obviously. The ABM treaty was necessary to sustain the policy of Mutually Assured Destruction. The MAD policy is, unfortunately, dead — the scenario doesn’t play out in a world with large numbers of nuclear-armed nations. In other words, during the Cold War the marginal benefit of an ABM system was dwarfed by the huge cost of abandoning MAD; these days, MAD is already dead, so we might as well go for the marginal gain remaining to us.

    [We] are hustling out a star wars system to defend us against suicide bombers.

    While I’m skeptical that the star wars system is feasible, it’s just dumb to pretend that it would serve no purpose if it worked. We already have defenses against suicide bombers; they’re called “law enforcement and intelligence agencies”, and while they’re far from perfect they’re better than nothing.

    What are these agencies supposed to do if North Korea lobs a nuclear-tipped missile at Seattle? Issue a subpoena?

    Every major country is now building up their military

    Germany doesn’t qualify as “a major country”? It has the third largest economy in the world, and it’s cutting its military.

    and are accelerating their nuke programs

    The only major countries which don’t already have nuclear weapons are Canada, Germany, Italy, and Japan — and none of them are developing nuclear weapons. So the notion that all the major nations are “accelerating their nuke programs” doesn’t even pass a laugh test; every major nation in the world either already has nukes or has no plans to get them.

    Now, it is certainly true that there are *minor* nations that are developing nukes. There just aren’t any that are developing nukes now, which weren’t already developing them before Bush took office. In fact, the number of nations actively pursuing nuclear weapons has dropped by at least two during the Bush years: Libya and Iraq are off the list.

    Now, most of the civilized world is fed up with us.

    Perhaps, but who cares? Let them enjoy their illusions of moral superiority, if it makes them feel better about themselves. It just makes it that much more amusing when they come to us for help.

  14. Really Gadfly, all that is happening… gratutitous assertions and your evidence is?

    We are also running half trillion dollar deficits,-true enough, and the economic slump had nothing to do with it?
    “…are coercing reservists into going into Iraq”- Really, coercion, and how many have been coerced? Or is this Libertarian Anarchy talking? I don’t see many Reservists being coerced.
    “have Iran, Syria, N Korea and China to deal with.”-Unlike the Clinton Era, where we had the same nations to worry about or unlike the FDR/Truman Era where we had other nations to worry about. We will ALWAYS have other nations to worry bout.
    “We’ve cancelled most treaties having to do with ABMs”-There was ONLY ONE Treaty, so when we withdrew from it, definition we withdrew from them all, but that’s not saying that much is it? Tell me should we continue to honour treaties with the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Ottoman Empire? They have as much legal existence as the Soviet Union. Oh and did the RUSSIASNS object to our withdrawl? No they didn’t we merely moved onto another START Agreement.
    “are exploring small nukes to use on miscreants”-Yes, we are and this is bad, how? I mean if Kim Il Jong or the Mullahs are 200 metres down under metres of steel reinforced concrete we should throw spit wads?
    “and are hustling out a star wars system to defend us against suicide bombers.”_uh no, that is hyperbolic bull shit.
    “Every major country is now building up their military and are accelerating their nuke programs to avoid getting attacked (we only go after the non-nuke countries).”-You are simply now making up BULLSHIT. The world’s miliatry expenditures are NOT going up. Or do you consider the North Koreans and the Iranians, the WHOLE WORLD? You are simply fgoing to have to move on from these simplistic arguments to make any points.
    “Not too long ago the Berlin wall came down, economic prosperity was upon us and the world embraced our ideals. Now, most of the civilized world is fed up with us.”-I see the worldwide depression that has encompassed the Northern Hemisphere. You know the “world” didn’t like us under Clinton so much as the US just never went out of its way to upset them. The reality is, the world’s hegemon is not going to be liked and if to get France and Germany’s means that we continue to allow the UN and European nations to profit at the expense of the people of Iraq and the Sudan there love is not worth it.

    “I just love a president with balls.”-Finally this is the PROBLEM with your posting. You have some simple little sound bite view of the world. The problem is NOT P{rsident’s with balls, he’s not a cowboy he’s someone that has a vision with which you don’t agree. Rather than ackowledge that you prefer to diminish and deride. Says more about you than Dubya.

    Comment by: Gadfly at September 27, 2004 08:3

  15. Dan, you shouldn’t feed the trolls. The L in Joe L. doesn’t stand for Libertarian. But now it’s my turn to troll.

    Hey Joe L., you said “Dubya isn’t a genius like Clinton or Kerry or Carter, but he IS effective unlike the last three men.” Last three men, eh? Clinton, Bush and Reagan. Reagan, the Arms-For-Hostages guy, right? Say didn’t Reagan support a proxy war in Afghanistan and thereby arm and train future terrorists, er, freedom fighters?

  16. Multiple postings seem to be the thing these days, so hey, why not? Dude said, “A strategic bungler of his magnitude doesn’t come along very often.” How about Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, (well, of course Ford, but that’s too easy), Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Chimpy? Heck! Throw in Harding and James Buchanan for good measure.

    Vote Libertarian!

  17. Fred, you mean Reagan that destroyed the Sandinistas and oversaw the defeat of the USSR? Actions that Kerry and Carter all opposed as threatening and non-productive? I didn’t mention Reagan to make your case less bad. Reagan was another cowboy that Leftists and Europeans feared and loathed…and it turns out he was right. I wouldn’t mention Reagan, were I you. He doesn’t bolster your case much.
    Oh and the Taliban, didn’t emerge until AFTER the Soviet withdrawl from Afghanistan. They were Madrassa students, not Mujihadeen, in fact Shah Massoud WAS a Mujihadeen and and an opponent of the Taliban as were many of the Northern Alliance. Again history and facts, so pesky.
    Vote for who you want, Fred. Personally, I think that Badnarik is not only a wasted vote it’s an IMMORAL one. I see Buchanan/Nader/Badnarik as the Father Coughlins and Col Lindbergh’s of our age. The America Firsters that would not stand up to evil. It didn’t save us from the evil, ithey just allowed it to porsper and increase the cost to all in defeating it. But I’m sure you don’t see it that way.
    Finally, never said or intimated that the “L” tood for Libertarian… it’s part of my last name.

  18. “you mean Reagan that destroyed the Sandinistas and oversaw the defeat of the USSR?”

    May be he meant Reagan that tucked his tail and ran from Beirut.

  19. Testy little bugger, aren’t you.

  20. Yepper Anon. that Reagan… your point would be? that he should have stayed, so you could complain? Or that in running away he gave you an opportunity to complain?
    I said he was GREAT, not PERFECT. But feel free to advance any other historical figure that has made no mistakes. You CAN advance Christ, but that really requires us all to be the Son of God and since we aren’t we can’t compare…And it requires us to be tacked up on a tree at the end, too.

  21. Reagan did not take appropriate action against Islamic terrorists during his term in office. It’s pointless to pretend that he did. However, he wasn’t really able to, either, since the Cold War was still in progress at the time. We couldn’t have (for example) invaded Iran, because the Soviets would have responded by providing the Iranian government with piles of money, weaponry, and “advisors”.

    Say didn’t Reagan support a proxy war in Afghanistan and thereby arm and train future terrorists, er, freedom fighters?

    That makes as much sense as blaming the Marines for Lee Harvey Oswald’s assassination of John F. Kennedy.

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