In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, would any leader react like George Jr., coming forth with incoherent strategy and bluster, only to create a far more disastrous conditional aftermath?
History does have a fond way of repeating itself, but would one guy view the situation the same as another, or does brains and cool overcome a Sarah Palin-like mindset?
And would another major attack on the US by Osama and his boys turn the newly-inaugurated president into a warmongering, Constitutional-busting loud-mouth?
Questions posed into the ether.
(Illustration found here).
This morning, Juan Cole at his Informed Comment site, brings this delicate set of questions to the forefront with an interesting tidbit from the Middle East.
- Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports in Arabic that Shaikh Najih Ibrahim, the leader of the fundamentalist group al-Gama’a al-Islamiya in Egypt, said Friday that his organization fears that al-Qaeda will launch an attack on the United States shortly, in revenge for Israel’s assault on Gaza, with the aim of turning Barack Obama into “another George W. Bush.”
Ibrahim’s group called on al-Qaeda instead to observe a 4-month ceasefire toward the United States, so as to give Obama a chance to show he is really different.
Ibrahim said, “A repetition by al-Qaeda of new operations” [against the US] “will be a victory for Israel and a victory for the point of view of George W. Bush, underlining that violence is the natural character of Muslims.”
Although Gama’a turned from violence more than a decade, and it’s original 1970s leader, Shaikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the “Blind Sheikh,” is in jail in connection with the 1993 WTC bombing and not very popular in Egypt, Cole — a most knowledgeable guy on Mid Eastern affairs — is concerned by this episode.
- Al-Qaeda’s number 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was the leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, a kindred organization that cooperated with the Gama’a in the killing of Sadat.
Al-Zawahiri has loudly condemned the turn of the Gama’a toward peace as an ideal.
The Gama’a still has enough members connected to the radical vigilante fundamentalist underground that they might well be in a position to hear al-Qaeda chatter, and it makes me worried that they are worried.
One hopes Obama does not flip, sending the audacity of hope into the recklessness of revenge.