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Fifth Column Vice President By: Chris Weinkopf
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, November 20, 2002


OSAMA BIN LADEN’S latest hit, his "I’m still alive" tirade, contains plenty of the usual anti-American bromides. There are references to "the criminal gang at the White House," charges that America is "killing our sons," and a rousting declaration that U.S. foreign policy is "based on an openly proclaimed intention to dominate the world."

Actually, that last part’s not true. For all his vitriolic ranting, the Wahhabi caveman never went so far as to claim that President George W. Bush is hell-bent on global dominance. The third quote listed above comes not from bin Laden, but that other (occasionally) bearded madman, Al Gore.

But maybe I’m not being fair—to bin Laden. After all, Osama at least seems to have a sound understanding of who’s on which side in the War on Terror. That can’t be said for the former vice president.

While both condemn the forthcoming U.S. invasion of Iraq, it’s bin Laden who does so for logical reasons—he sees an American-led regime change in Baghdad as a setback to his goal of a brutally Islamicized world. But in his own "I’m still alive" tirade—the anti-war speech he delivered in San Francisco back in September—Gore warned that "the war against terror manifestly requires broad and continuous international cooperation," which would be "be severely damaged by unilateral action against Iraq." In other words, we can fight terror or we can fight Iraq, but not both; the two are wholly incompatible.

Gore’s analysis is a staple of the anti-war left, and it’s widely dispensed through much of the establishment press. The theory holds that Islamist terrorists and quasi-secular Arab dictators like Hussein have nothing in common; in fact, they are sworn enemies. Hussein and his fellow thugs, we are told, live in constant fear of a revolution at the hands of a radicalized Arab Street. Meanwhile, bin Laden and his terrorist cohorts are feverishly plotting the overthrow of insufficiently pious Muslim leaders like Hussein.

But it’s hard to detect any of the purported antipathy between Hussein and bin Laden in the latter’s latest fireside chat. "If you can’t look at your dead and the dead of your allies," the al Qaeda leader warns his enemies, "then remember to look at our dead from among the children in Palestine and Iraq ... and our dead who were deliberately killed in weddings in Afghanistan."

Bin Laden’s grouping of victims of a U.S. attack in Iraq along with the Muslim dead in Israel and Afghanistan is a powerful statement. It suggests that al Qaeda stands with the Iraqi regime just as surely as it does with the supposed martyrs of the Islamic world (the Palestinians) and the guardians of Islamic purity (the Taliban). Clearly, any aversion bin Laden has toward Iraqi Ba’athism is subordinate to his hatred of Western culture and the United States. Rather than taking glee at the prospect of two "enemies" going to war with one another, bin Laden has chosen Saddam in the impending U.S.-Iraqi conflict.

Hussein might not live up to Taliban standards of Islamic orthodoxy, but bin Laden understands that in war, allies need not agree on everything. He’ll postpone Islam’s intramural squabbles until after jihad has rid the world of infidels. Till then, the Islamists and the Ba’athists can get along just fine.

That’s clearly how Hussein sees it, too. Rather than denouncing 9/11 and other related acts of terrorism, the Iraqi tyrant has been silent at best, or, at times, outright supportive. To commemorate this year’s anniversary of Sept. 11, an Iraqi state-owned newspaper infamously ran a picture of the burning World Trade Centers towers with the headline, "God’s Punishment."

Far from turning his back on the terrorism of the Arab world, Hussein actively underwrites it by paying $25,000 to the families of dead Palestinian terror-bombers. And to show his renewed commitment to terror, he recently vowed to retaliate against an American strike by launching missiles at Israel, just to make sure that if he’s going down, he’ll take as many innocent Jews along with him as possible.

America’s enemies understand quite well who’s on which side in the war on terror. It’s only America’s leftists who have a dangerously hard time making the distinctions.

In Gore’s mind, Bush’s designs on Iraq are all part of a broader plan—an "openly proclaimed" one, no less—to conquer the world. In his San Francisco speech, Gore even made grotesque comparisons between the next phase in the War on Terror, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and a hypothetical Chinese attack on Taiwan.

It’s impossible to miss Gore these days. He’s on Letterman, the "Today" show, "Saturday Night Live," the pages of Time, and most anywhere else he can get some attention, ostensibly to publicize two new books he’s written with his wife. By all indications, he’s testing the presidential waters for 2004, and also testing the political potency of his anti-war shtick.

Gore apparently senses a resurgent "peace" movement out there, and envisions himself as its leader. Knee-jerk pacifism is still live, just as surely as bin Laden is, and it’s no surprise that the two sound so much alike.


Chris Weinkopf is an editorial writer and columnist for the Los Angeles Daily News. To read his weekly Daily News column, click here. E-mail him at chris.weinkopf@dailynews.com.


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