Matt Duss at The Wonk Room asks an excellent question: why are conservatives so committed to promoting al Qaeda’s “success”?
As I noted yesterday, it is true that one of the goals of terrorism is to elicit a wild over-reaction from the target government, resulting in greater publicity and a larger pool of potential recruits for the terrorists’ cause, and so any response has to be balanced against that. But the idea that “the strategic goals of al Qaeda” are better advanced by more security theater at American airports than they were by, say, inducing the United States to invade and occupy two Muslim countries and engage in a global campaign of kidnapping and torture, is just ridiculous on its face.
But this is largely beside the point, because conservatives like Kristol, Hume, and Doan aren’t genuinely (or at least primarily) interested in analyzing threats and policies to deal with them, they’re interested in promoting a specific, and politically advantageous, narrative about the nature of those threats. And apparently, the possibility of those threats serving as Al Qaeda propaganda is a price they’re willing to pay in order to achieve that political advantage.
Duss also cites an expert on Middle East media, who points out that:
… the exaggeration of al-Qaeda’s role works directly and devastatingly against American goals … It magnifies al-Qaeda’s perceived power, strengthening its own media campaign and feeding its most powerful propaganda instrument…
And yet here we have Charles Krauthammer and Wesley Pruden likening the failed underwear attack to the bombing of Pearl Harbor that killed nearly 2,500 Americans and propelled the United States into World War II. Let me repeat:
… the exaggeration of al-Qaeda’s role works directly and devastatingly against American goals.
As Duss points out:
In March 2004, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed “We are being hurt by al-Jazeera in the Arab world…There is no question about it.”
“The quality of the journalism is outrageous — inexcusably biased — and there is nothing you can do about it except try to counteract it.” He said it was turning Arabs against the United States.
“You could say it causes the loss of life,” he added.
Later that year, Fox News ran a story entitled “Al Jazeera: Friend or Foe in the War on Terror?” Given how committed Fox News and other conservative media seems to be to waving Al Qaeda’s flag for them, maybe we should be asking the same question now about them.
Indeed. And another question should be, why aren’t these people being called out for their dangerous anti-American rhetoric by the rest of the media?