Dr. Muqtedar Khan is
the Director of International Studies at Adrian College. He
earned his Ph.D. in International Relations, Political
Philosophy, and Islamic Political Thought, from
Georgetown University in May 2000.
Khan is presently a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings
Institution. and a Fellow of the Institute
for Social Policy and Understanding.
Dr. Khan's column has
appeared in The Wall Street, The new York Times, Washignton
Post, The Daily Star, Al Ahram, Hindustan Times, Asia
TimesDawn International (Pakistan), Daily Times (Pakistan),
Outlook India (India), The Muslim Gazette (India), Nagasaki
Post (Japan), The Daily Telelegraph (London), Manila Times
(Philippines), Jordan Times (Jordan), Aljazeera (Qatar), The
Daily Telegram, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco
Examiner, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, Washington Report
on Middle East Affairs, Muslim Democrat, I Theglobalist.com,
Beliefnet.com, Arabies Trends (France), Al-Mustaqbal
(Lebanon), Lebanon Daily Star, and many other periodicals
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Al Qaeda will vote for George W. Bush
A. Muqtedar Khan
article was published in Q-News April 2004 [England], The
Daily Times [Pakistan] April 14, 2004, The Globalist,
Muslim Observer and Minaret [USA], CBC Canada.
recently we have seen two examples of Al Qaeda’s political
acumen. Their attack in Spain was so well timed that it swung
the elections in favor of the anti-war socialist party.
The second instance of Al Qaeda’s political smarts is the
recent incessant attacks against soft targets in Iraq and on
American troops to underscore the absence of security and
stability in Iraq. It probably prevented President George W
Bush from having another ‘top gun’ electoral campaign
moment on the anniversary of the Iraq invasion.
attacks have sent the message to the world that
America’s invasion of Iraq has increased terrorism not
decreased it. Instead of making the world a safer place,
America has now endangered its allies as the attacks on
Spain and Turkey suggest.
Al Qaeda not only
seems to understand the nature of politics and media in
democratic societies but also knows how to work the
system to gain strategic advantages.
TO LISTEN AUDIO COMMENTARY ON
It would be naïve to assume that Al Qaeda will not vote in
the coming American elections in November 2004. The issue that
we must ponder is how it’s going to cast its ballot? To
understand how Al Qaeda will vote, we must try to figure out
whom it will prefer in the White House, Bush or Kerry?
If John Kerry wins in November he will probably make the
following changes in American foreign policy:
1. He will roll back American unilateralism and seek more
international cooperation from Europe, South Asia, Middle East
and the UN. Instead of a coalition of the coerced, Kerry will
seek a truly international coalition. Coalitions built through
a multilateral process will present fewer fissures in the
anti-terror campaign for Al Qaeda to exploit.
2. Most probably John Kerry will be interested in reducing
rather than expanding the scope and objectives of
counter-terrorism. Neocon goals such as reshaping the Middle
East, reforming Islam, reconstituting the United States defense
doctrines and redefining old Europe, will be abandoned and
under Kerry the US will concentrate more on eliminating Al
Qaeda and associates than anything else.
3. Much of soft anti-Americanism worldwide is a result of
anti-Bushism. Regardless of what Americans think, most of the
world finds President Bush uncouth, obnoxious, arrogant, crude
and a bully. His defeat itself will reduce anti-Americanism
globally and will increase American prospects for victory in
this war on terror.
Will Al Qaeda be happy with these developments? I doubt it.
Anti-Bushism has helped them divide the world and the growing
anger in the Muslim world as a result of George Bush’s
policies has helped them gain recruits, clones and support. If
Bush loses in November they will lose an important asset. Al
Qaeda will become the sole target of US energies and surely
that must be a disturbing thought to even those who relish the
idea of dying while fighting America.
Bruce Hoffman (Rand
Corporation), Yours Truly and Lawrence Wright (New Yorker)
at the conference on Al Qaeda at John Jay College, NY.
If George W Bush wins in spite of a terrible economy and
millions of job losses:
1. He might interpret the victory as an endorsement of his
anti-terror strategy and probably continue to expand the scope
and objectives of his war on terror. Perhaps regime changes in
Iran, Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia may be back on the ‘to
do’ list. It is possible that Spain may also figure on the
list of regime changes.
2. It is also possible that many European and Middle Eastern
states may stop cooperating with the US. Already many nations
resent President Bush’s policies and style, they may begin
to actively oppose his global agenda. The easiest way to do so
is to withdraw from the coalition and call for more UN
participation. We might see more and more nations following
Spain’s example and disengaging from the American bandwagon.
All of the above will help Al Qaeda pursue its strategic
goals: undermine the West, hurt Americans and American
interests, destabilize politics and economies in South Asia
and the Middle East and cement the growing cleavages between
the US and Europe and the US and the Muslim World.
It is in Al Qaeda’s interest that President Bush stays in
the White House. Thus at the moment they are anti-American but
Pro-Bush. Come November they will vote for Bush. How you may
Fear is the key. If the American voters feel reasonably secure
on the terrorism issue then they will focus on economy,
unemployment and on cultural issues such as the gay marriage
If at the time of the elections the priorities of American
(1) Economy, (2) Culture, and then (3) Security, or
(1)Economy, (2) Security and (3) Culture, John Kerry will
However if by November the voter is either thinking:
(1) Security, (2) Culture and then (3) Economy, Bush will win
with a landslide and if the voter is thinking:
(1) Security, (2) Economy and (3) Culture, Bush may win
Al Qaeda can make security a more pressing issue than economy
by increasing their activities and even by targeting America
again. Karl Rove, the president’s political guru will
probably work to ensure that culture continues to figure in
the American voter’s mind.
But if Bin Laden and Al Zawahiri are both arrested/killed
soon, then security will be out of the reckoning and Kerry
will win unless new jobs are created in hurry.
As we approach November, Bin Laden and his associates will
increase the frequency and intensity of their attacks to
ensure that George W Bush Wins. Al Qaeda will be determined to
make security a bigger issue than economy so the worse the
economy gets the worse terrorism we are likely to see.
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