Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Monday, September 06, 2004

The politics of Bin Laden
A while ago the New Republic reported that high-ranking Pakistani officials being pressured to capture Bin Laden and other high value targets on a Republican political timetable. Bin Laden's is back in the political path this week with the Pakistani's upset about comments made by US State Department counter-terrorism affairs head, Joseph Cofer Black, who kicked-off the traditional Labour Day final campaign phase by claiming that he is about to be caught.

Black stated on Saturday that the forces pursuing the al-Qaeda chief had got closer to him in the past two months and that "What I tell people, I would be surprised but not necessarily shocked if we wake up tomorrow and he's been caught along with all his lieutenants. That can happen because of the programs and infrastructure in place."

This is a pretty substantial statement given the lack of any evidence to support it, and the Pakistani's have seen through the charade, denouncing it as US pre-election 'politicking'.

But it highlights the critical importance that Bin Laden holds for Bush's 2004 re-election campaign. Capturing Bin Laden in the final lead-up to the November election would undoubtedly propel the incumbent to the much trumpeted "four more years". Conversely, I'm sure Kerry will be prodding the Bush presidency in the ribs about its failure to bring Bin Laden, the face on terrorism, to US retribution. The irony is lost on noone, and it is perhaps apt that in the full circle of Bush's first term, he is again inextricably linked in fate with the object of his 'war on terror'.