Bin Laden Doesn’t Care Who Wins
The remark of Speaker of the House Denis Hastert that al-Qaeda would like to manipulate the US election with a terrorist bombing and would be happier with Kerry as president is simply wrong. The Democrats are correct that such comments are a form of fear-mongering aimed at stampeding the American public into voting for Bush out of terror. Indeed, if the US public votes for any candidate because of concern for Bin Laden, then Bin Laden has been handed precisely the victory that Hastert professed to abhor.
But Hastert is just wrong. Al-Qaeda does not care who wins the elections. If the US withdraws from Iraq (which could happen willy-nilly under Bush as easily as under Kerry), that would be seen as a victory by al-Qaeda. If the US remains in Iraq for years, bleeding at the hands of an ongoing guerrilla insurgency, then that is also a victory for al-Qaeda from their point of view. They therefore just don’t care which candidate wins. They hate general US policy in the Middle East, which would not change drastically under Kerry. To any extent that al-Qaeda is giving serious thought to the US elections, it would see no significant difference between the candidates. But given its goal of creating more polarization between the US and the Muslim World, it is entirely possible that the al-Qaeda leadership would prefer Bush, since they want to “sharpen the contradictions.”