The sneering video letter issued by Al Qaeda’s No. 2 proves, if nothing else, that the Islamist terror network is running scared of Barack Obama.
And so they should be: Obama’s commitment to withdraw troops from Iraq and focus them on Afghanistan smashes the central Al-Qaeda thesis that the US seeks to occupy oil-rich Arab lands. But more to the point, his election proves that American democracy is not the sham al-Qaeda claims it to be. If the son of an African man, schooled in Indonesia, can rise from almost nowhere, challenge his own party’s machine and be elected US president on a ticket of change and reform, then democracy really is as described on the packet, not a plaything of money interests.
So while the video rather desperately tries to undermine Obama’s undoubted popularity on the Arab street, it succeeds only in exposing Al-Qaeda as racists with a twisted view of the world. Suddenly, it feels as if the West is beginning to triumph over Al-Qaeda.
It’s a sobering thought -- but for anyone who reads the Gospels not an unsurprising one -- that the election of Barack Obama is as effective a riposte to 9/11 as the war in Iraq was a disastrous one. In the minds of angry Muslims across the world, the Iraq war has seemed to prove the Al-Qaeda thesis. The election of Obama now spectacularly disproves it.
Thinking of what each has involved -- the astonishing destructiveness of the war, the tidal wave of hope and solidarity of the election -- it becomes clearer that means and ends are much the same thing. Peace does not come through violence; order is not secured by disorder; you don’t get to the Promised Land by burning up the fields of its neighbours. Or as Jesus rhetorically asked: "How can Satan drive out Satan?"