Readers will note that the list of al Qaeda's grievances seems a bit self-generating. The U.S. is in Afghanistan, for instance, because of the attacks on New York and Washington on September 11. (That's also true of Iraq: irrespective of the Baathist regime's role in 911, there was no way a comprehensive response could have been made without resolving the Iraq question, though Anonymous will have none of this line of argument.) We find the same damned-if-you do, damned-if-you don't quality in Anonymous's extended list of things that the U.S. does to annoy Muslims. For instance, we are told:
"America has declared that waging jihad against Islam's attackers is a criminal act and seized and incarcerated - often without trial - hundreds of suspected mujaheddin around the world. For a Muslim to refrain from joining a defensive jihad to protect Islam means disobeying God's law and earning damnation."
This is a head-scratcher. Apparently, arresting an aspirant martyr as he tries to smuggle explosives over the Canadian border is not just a disappointment, but a grievance. In fact, it's a legitimate grievance, since Anonymous accepts the characterization of al Qaeda's project as a "defensive jihad." When Osama bin Laden says that Muslim lands are under assault all over the world at the behest of the U.S., he is describing reality. That is why the United States was struck on 911.
Other observers may find bin Laden's list of "attacks" against Islam to be, at best, unevenly persuasive. It includes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a topic on which differences of opinion sometimes occur, but at least Anonymous is clear that no solution that includes the existence of Israel would be acceptable to al Qaeda or other Islamist groups. It includes the independence of East Timor, which I had thought of as a Catholic country that Islamic Indonesia had tried and failed to assimilate, but I can see how other people might think differently. As far as I am concerned, however, there is only one sane opinion about this complaint from bin Laden:
"What documents incriminated the Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina and warranted the Western Crusaders, with the United States at their head, to unleash the Serb ally to annihilate and displace the Muslim people of the region under U.N. cover?"
Perhaps an isolated villager in the Hindu Kush could be forgiven for believing that the United States tried to use Serbia to de-Islamize all or part of the Balkans. However, as Anonymous never ceases to remind us, Osama bin Laden is a well-informed man, with a sophisticated understanding of the world. In the case of this grievance, at least, we are not dealing with a culturally different perception. We are dealing with what Joseph Goebbels used to call "The Big Lie."
On a completely different but related note, it appears that Giuliani is planning to publicly embrace his support of abortion. While I think that this is really his only option at this point given his incredibly incoherent answer about Roe vs. Wade at the GOP presidential debate followed by his statement on Laura Ingraham's radio show, what I think this does help to illustrate is just how much snake oil a lot of the pundits who were arguing that pro-lifers should support Giuliani regardless were trying to sell. I will be very interested to see what, if anything, Bill Simon does as a result of this latest travesty.
One other point that I think needs to be made about a potential Giuliani candidacy: if he is now actively seeking to remake the party as a reflection of his pro-choice views, then I am going to go back and agree with Josiah that his defeat as the nominee would be preferable to a complete schism within the conservative movement. I also don't think that he's nearly as solid on the war on terrorism as some have argued - particularly given his current statements, I think that both McCain and Thompson have a lot more substance there.