I have been reading and listening to many opinions on the matter. Not many have struck me as being insightful or enlightnening, save for a few people. One of them was Gary North's exposition on what Osama bin Laden's motives really were with his then public statements to Americans in October of 2004. North drew the comparison to what bin Laden had done with Saul Alinsky's tactic of making the action directly control the reaction. In other words, the provocation isn't the end goal, but the reaction to the provocation is what is desired.
I may not entirely agree that bin Laden could have known a ferocious attack would have birthed an invasion of a country not directly tied to said attacks, but he could have certainly expected the U.S. to have no choice but to invade Afghanistan and become a political sitting duck in that country. The action was made knowing the reaction would play into the worries and fears of Muslims across the world. The fact that the President and his close staff had wanted to remove President Saddam Hussein would only further these fears.
President Bush is not changing the mantra either. In a brief press appearance, a reporter asked the President what he thought about the latest pronouncement/threat released by Ayman al-Zawahri, the presumed No. 2 man in Al Qaida. The response:
"We will stay on the offense against these people. They're terrorists and they're killers and they will kill innocent people ... so they can impose their dark vision on the world."
Al-Zawahri may not be telling the truth of course about claiming the London bombings as Al Qaida's own, but his threat is still the same: America and the U.K. leave or suffer the consequences. I have no doubt that President Bush is earnest in his declarations, but his solution isn't solving anything. If America is in Afghanistan and Iraq to prevent terrorism, why are they still occurring? If the U.S. wasn't an omnipresent hegemonic power in the region, would our country still be in the crosshairs? If President Bush doesn't even explore this path, then more Marines, Army, and Navy forces will perish in order to fight them "over there" with little to no effect on terrorism. From the article linked above, this is the final quote of Al-Zawahri.
"Our message is clear: you will not be safe until you withdraw from our land, stop stealing our oil and wealth and stop supporting the corrupt rulers."
So now America must contemplate what has come of these unintended consequences of razing a country to allay fears of weapons falling into the wrong hands. An article in this month's issue of The Nation allows four experts to comment on the current political situation. They are Helena Cobban, Juan Cole, Nir Rosen, and Shibley Telhami. A quote from Juan Cole truly hits home after it is proposed that the Bush Administration has championed democracy in the Middle East and that it is working.
"It is a good thing for the US to support democracy in the region, but it has to be done wisely. The main effect of aggressive Bush Administration policy to date has been to spread instability and increase polarization."
The clarity of this view becomes occluded with the current administration no matter what the reality is on the ground.