Atop a terrific commentary, the Captain’s Journal has just posted one of the year’s most inspired headlines: “Iraq: Al Qaeda’s Quagmire.” It’s got me wondering what else we’d be hearing in that vein if Al Qaeda’s own network engaged in the kind of chronic, highly public self-flagellation that does so much to shape our own national debate — with all the accompanying public hand-wringing, quarrels, allegations, investigations, exposes and tendencies to amplify every setback into a chorus of calls for surrender.
Of course, Al Qaeda won’t do that. As a terrorist conglomerate dedicated to totalitarian goals, it is not exactly prone to such practices as cultivating a free press, public accountability and democratic debate. Al Qaeda acolytes can’t FOIA Ayman Al-Zawahiri.
Maybe some of our more creative thinkers could provide a proxy service for them? Take a cue from the Captain, flip around the perspective and start the Al Qaeda Times — chronicling what we might hear if Al Qaeda’s leaders had to account in public to their followers for every in-house rivalry, cover-up, glitch, hitch, defeat, capture, botched plan, lagging timetable and failure of leadership. Along with the Al Qaeda quagmire in Iraq, there is by now a long list of foiled Al Qaeda plots, and fumbled Al Qaeda operations. Just a few suggestions:
“Analysis from the Front: Who Lost Anbar Province?” (Part of an Al Qaeda series on “Who Is Losing Iraq,” “Who is Losing the Philippines?” etc.)
“Iran’s Revolutionary Guards: Allies or Cutthroat Rivals? — The Betrayal Ahead”
“Major Plot Fails Completely in (fill in the place: Germany/Britain/U.S./etc.): Plotters Sing While Al Qaeda Leadership Mute on Failure”
“Growing Embezzlement Scandal: Millions in Cash Unaccounted For”
“Martyrdom Operations Utterly Alienating Local Populations: Now What?”
and, perhaps a series on the Al Qaeda lifestyle:
“While Rank and File Die in Droves, Leaders Still Afraid to Emerge from Hiding, Grab Best Spots in Safe Houses and Caves”