What do the terrorists want next Tuesday?

President Bush says that if Democrats take over one or both houses of Congress on Nov. 7, "the terrorists win and America loses." In other words, if the Democrats win, they will pull out of Iraq and Al Qaeda will declare victory. But would Al Qaeda really consider it a victory if the U.S. withdrew its forces from ...

President Bush says that if Democrats take over one or both houses of Congress on Nov. 7, "the terrorists win and America loses." In other words, if the Democrats win, they will pull out of Iraq and Al Qaeda will declare victory. But would Al Qaeda really consider it a victory if the U.S. withdrew its forces from Iraq? Or is the Al Qaeda cause better served by keeping U.S. forces tied down in a deadly guerilla war in the heart of the Middle East?

On his blog, Williams College Professor Marc Lynch offers a look at how one anonymous Jihadist sees that equation (note Lynch's caveat at the end, it's an important one):

If the Democrats win, they will have to live up to their campaign promises and increase the pressure to withdraw.  Even if the Republicans win, the pressure from the American street towards withdrawal is strong on them as well.

President Bush says that if Democrats take over one or both houses of Congress on Nov. 7, "the terrorists win and America loses." In other words, if the Democrats win, they will pull out of Iraq and Al Qaeda will declare victory. But would Al Qaeda really consider it a victory if the U.S. withdrew its forces from Iraq? Or is the Al Qaeda cause better served by keeping U.S. forces tied down in a deadly guerilla war in the heart of the Middle East?

On his blog, Williams College Professor Marc Lynch offers a look at how one anonymous Jihadist sees that equation (note Lynch's caveat at the end, it's an important one):

If the Democrats win, they will have to live up to their campaign promises and increase the pressure to withdraw.  Even if the Republicans win, the pressure from the American street towards withdrawal is strong on them as well.

This poses a problem for al-Qaeda, since keeping America in Iraq has been so central to its strategy. If al-Qaeda believes that this stage has accomplished its goals, then the author thinks that it will permit the withdrawal and then reap its gains. But the author says that in his personal opinion, the time for the next stage has not yet arrived, and it would be better to keep the stage of America's being stuck in Iraq extended as long as possible. Even if America has suffered many losses, he argues, it remains very powerful and would only take a couple of years to recover from Iraq and return to the field of play. The author fears that al-Qaeda's leaders will fall prey to the temptation to move on to the next stage too early, and not intervene to keep the Republicans in power and the Americans in Iraq.

Therefore, while the author does not know what al-Qaeda wil do, he thinks that al-Qaeda should seek to delay the American withdrawal as long as possible by working to ensure that Bush and the Republican Party win the coming elections."

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