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Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Bush-disparagers won't quit

Mark Steyn in the Jerusalem Post
Last Sunday's exciting news seems to have prompted a wide array of interpretations around the world. But, to simplify things, most of them fall between two extremes.

The one end is neatly distilled by the headline on John Podhoretz's post-Saddam column in The New York Post: "Message: America Wins."

The other end is encapsulated by our old friend Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's Number Two: "America has been defeated by our fighters despite all its military might," he said in an audio tape broadcast on al-Jazeera last weekend. "With God's help we are still chasing Americans and their allies everywhere, including their homeland."

You won't be surprised to hear I incline broadly to the "Message: America Wins" end of the spectrum. What's slightly more perplexing is the number of hitherto sane people who take the al-Zawahri line.

For example, the distinguished British historian Professor Correlli Barnett, whose piece in the current issue of The Spectator is headlined "Why Al-Qa'eda Is Winning." If I were Osama, I'd tuck that one away in the cuttings file. Except, of course, that these days what's left of poor old Osama can itself be tucked away in the cuttings file.

Here, in a nutshell, is why recent trends seem to be going Bush's way rather than al-Zawahri's: In the little more than two years since 9/11, two vile dictatorships have fallen in Kabul and Baghdad, and only the other day a third, in Tripoli, has suddenly announced that it's dismantling its nukes program and the Brits and Yanks are welcome to take a look over anything they fancy.

A plus for Bush's side? Or al-Zawahri's? You make the call.

MUST-READ it all