Although U.S. President George W. Bush maintains that al-Qaida strikes out at the industrialized democracies because of hatred for Western values, the statement said nothing of the sort. The attack, the terrorists proclaimed, was an act of sacred revenge for British "massacres" in "Afghanistan and Iraq," and a punishment of the United Kingdom for its "Zionism" (i.e., support of Israel). If they really are responsible, who is this group and what do they want?It is interesting to note that although the Madrid and London bombings are not the work of al-Qaida per se, but of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group and a "secret group" of Qaida al-Jihad in Europe, respectively. While these groups pledge alegiance to al-Qaida, "It is highly unlikely that al-Qaida itself retains enough command and control to plan or order such operations" as those they carry out. Another good quote from Cole:
From the point of view of a serious counterinsurgency campaign against al-Qaida, Bush has made exactly the wrong decisions all along the line. He decided to "unleash" Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon rather than pressing for Israeli-Palestinian peace and an end to Israeli occupation of the territories it captured in 1967. Rather than extinguishing this most incendiary issue for Arabs and Muslims, he poured gasoline on it. His strategy in response to Sept. 11 was to fight the Afghanistan War on the cheap. By failing to commit American ground troops in Tora Bora, he allowed bin Laden and al-Zawahiri to escape. He reneged on promises to rebuild Afghanistan and prevent the reemergence of the Taliban and al-Qaida there, thus prolonging the U.S. and NATO military presence indefinitely. He then diverted most American military and reconstruction resources into an illegal war on Iraq. That war may have been doomed from the beginning, but Bush's refusal to line up international support, and his administration's criminal lack of planning for the postwar period, made failure inevitable.One last note: I heard about the work of U Chicago Political scientist Robert Pape on NPR and was wondering where this all would be published. Cole's article informs me that his stuff is all in a new book from Random House.