The Birth of a Nation
Bin Laden has endorsed George Bush for re-election because Bush’s open hostility stokes the radical Islamic cause while a less aggressive, more subtle policy might lull the Arab world into complacency, thus promoting the spread of Western ideas in the region. I suppose most people registered this statement as sarcasm. I take it quite literally. Islamic fundamentalism needs an American sponsor to flourish. Left to themselves, educated Muslims are very unlikely to persist in willfully archaic attitudes. Whatever lip service they might have be willing to pay to their tradition, they also want the economic and personal benefits of the modern world. Indeed, prior to 9/11, the scholarly consensus had it that fundamentalism had reached its maximum influence in the region and could be expected to lose strength and focus as time went on. What the radicals required was an external power that would treat Muslims with general contempt. Bush, famously a uniter, not a divider, was the necessary man. He’s certainly proved himself a nation builder in Iraq where only a bloodthirsty tyrant like Hussein or a hated foreign occupier could make a real country out of the matter and antimatter of Sunnis and Shias. It’s true that he hasn’t yet directed American troops to paint a Crusader Cross on their uniforms, but his endorsement of the Israeli policy of unilateral annexation and high-tech assassination comes pretty close.