Well, aren’t we all. To think, without the ‘Busters, this moment of glory might have been lost to history:
ALEX WITT: You know, John, and it’s interesting because there are many who had such an optimistic and hopeful opinion of things, and you certainly can’t expect things to change [snaps fingers] on a dime overnight, but there are many who suggested that with the outgoing Bush administration and the incoming Obama administration there would be something of a lull in terrorism attacks. There had been such a global outpouring of affection, respect, hope, with the new administration coming in, that precisely these kinds of attacks, it was thought — at least hoped — would be dampered down. But in this case it looks like Barack Obama is getting a preview of things to come.
No video, alas. Er, who are the “many” who thought jihadists would be giving The One a honeymoon to get himself settled? Didn’t Zawahiri just call him a “house negro”? Didn’t his own VP warn that foreign interests would be downright eager to test a novice? A smart Obama shill would at least argue that it’s because of the outpouring of affection and imminent healing of the globe that terrorists might be especially determined to reassert themselves. That, at least, would follow the theory that all grievances abroad are ultimately reactions to Bush policy rather than independently motivated by, say, death-cult ideology. Witt sounds genuinely mystified, though. Can’t Bin Laden feel the Change?
Incidentally, at least one intel expert does think the attacks were a response to U.S. policy — specifically, Obama’s:
One analyst even described the attacks as a “pre-emptive strike” against Barack Obama’s strategy to put Pakistan and Afghanistan at the centre of US foreign policy.
The United States and its allies now face a balancing act in supporting India’s efforts to investigate the Mumbai attacks, without jeopardizing Pakistan’s crucial support for the Nato campaign in Afghanistan…
[The Pakistani government] has also made it clear that if India again masses troops on the border, Pakistani forces would be diverted away from the tribal areas, allowing militants there to focus on Afghanistan.
“The next 48 hours are critical in determining how things unfold,” a top Pakistani security official told reporters. “We will not leave a single troop on the western border if we are threatened by India.”
If true, it’s a replay of Al Qaeda’s strategy in Iraq: Attack the Shiites to provoke reprisals against the Sunnis, thus radicalizing both sides and making Anbar safer for jihadists. I’m not sure why that theory’s any more likely than the sort of simple fanatic irredentism over Kashmir that’s traditionally motivated terror in India, though. In fact, according to this sterling report in the Journal of how the attack played out, when someone in a group of hostages asked two jihadis why they were doing it, they specifically mentioned incidents of Hindu attacks against Muslims — before proceeding to gun down the entire group (almost). The one jihadi who survived claimed they trained for five months in Kashmir and then took a month off, which means that if this was some sort of plot to outflank Obama, they would have had to start planning before he’d even clinched the nomination.
No matter. Hitchens notes in today’s cry for solidarity with India that he hadn’t yet found any “Western saps” willing to blame this on Bush/Blair foreign policy. Evidently he doesn’t watch CNN. Same principle here as Trutherism, really: It’s comforting to believe Bush knocked down the Towers because Bush, at least, can be easily dislodged. And now he has been, and still. Imagine Alex Witt’s confusion.