THE BLOG

Al Qaeda's Predictable Return to the Stage: You Can Thank Dick Cheney

As Dick Cheney, Ken Mehlman, and the Republican noise machine start to lash out at the al Qaeda sympathizers who voted for Ned Lamont, all the people standing in horrendous airport lines today and tossing their shampoo bottles away should remember that they owe their frustration--and their fear--to Cheney and his gang.

Many of us have been predicting that the real al Qaeda--not its Connectictut sympathizers--would get back into the game with a vengeance in response to Hezbollah's inadvertent successes in Lebanon. I say inadvertent because there's no evidence that Hezbollah wanted or anticipated the full-scale confrontation with the IDF that has been unfolding to Hezbollah's obvious advantage.

How must it have enraged the Sunnis who lead al Qaeda to see Hezbollah, a Shia-led movement, become the darling of the Arab "street," even drawing many Sunnis into its orbit of fans? Now we have al Qaeda's answer to such humiliation. Hezbollah might be able to thwart the IDF's drones and even tanks, but it's not yet ready to put the world on Red Alert. Al Qaeda can and just did.

The Sunnis are also flexing their muscle in murderous ways in Iraq, as in this morning's attack on the Ali shrine in the sacred city of Najaf. They obviously aren't taking the worldwide rise in Shia prestige lying down.

Of course, "Edgar" Cheney is no dummy, or at least not in the obvious ways that his "Charlie" is deficient. Cheney would doubtless argue that al Qaeda's resurgence merely proves that he and his claque have been right about the need to support Israel's moves in Lebanon to take out or take down Hezbollah in a decisive way. (The claque's firm control of Secretary Rice, exercised through the thoroughly repellent figure of Elliott Abrams, is beautifully described by Helene Cooper in this morning's New York Times.)

There is just one little problem with Cheney's logic about Lebanon, which is that it doesn't conform to the way the world actually works. As our catastrophic Iraq experience shows, a "decisive blow" by conventional military forces in the Middle East, assuming it can be done at all, is likely to bring in its train a even stronger resistance movement and/or a civil war. Quagmire is, I think, still the appropriate term even in the Mesopotamian desert.

Because most folks who have only the echo-chamber media to rely upon won't be able to connect the dots, expect the Cheney view to prevail and to confound all efforts to think clearly about the actual options available to a country that has stumbled pathetically, and at a terrible cost to our actual security, in the almost five years that have now elapsed since "the events of..."

Expect to hear Hezbollah and al Qaeda conflated into one big "Arab" threat to both Brave Little Israel and our Land of the Free/Home of the Brave. Expect the worst.

As I write, I can hear from my kitchen the media blare about the "plotters" arrested in London. Let's try not to forget that we have our own half-mad plotters--with names like Cheney, Hadley, Libby, Perle, Wolfowitz, and Abrams--and that it is thanks to their peculiar madness (and blindness) that we now live in a far more dangerous world than we would be living had we faced the future with intelligence and candor following 9-11.