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Thesis & Antithesis

A critical perspective on energy, international politics & current affairs

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Location: Washington, D.C.

greekdefaultwatch@gmail.com Natural gas consultant by day, blogger on the Greek economy by night. Trained as an economist and political scientist. I believe in common sense and in data, and my aim is to offer insight written in language that is clear and convincing.

18 October 2005

A letter’s authenticity

In today’s Los Angeles Times, Bruce B. Lawrence of Duke University suggests that the letter addressed from Ayman al-Zawahiri to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a forgery, probably of the Bush Administration (1). His argument centers around a strategic change for al Qaeda (the need to avoid killing Shiites in order to unite Muslims), the time delay between it being written and published, a request for a 100,000 payment and the message: “send greetings to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.” He concludes that if the letter proved to be a forgery that would be an embarrassment for the President of the United States.

I have two thoughts on this: first, any sensible war correspondence has to include information that will make the enemy doubt the letter’s authenticity. This is neither here nor there, and it is easy to fall in the trap of “that’s what they thought we would think,” and enter into an endless game of hide and seek. Discerning from this if the letter is authentic is almost impossible.

My other point is that I would welcome America becoming a bit more Machiavellian. If it forged the letter, so be it. The problem would be if America got caught. In that case, it could come out and say: “we thought it was authentic but we were wrong.” If the job was badly done and it could be shown that the Bush Administration actually wrote the letter, then the true message would be: get better at playing the war game.

(1) Bruce B. Lawrence, “Fake letter, real trouble?” Los Angeles Times, 18 Oct 05 (here)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

More on issue: http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewSpecialReports.asp?Page=\SpecialReports\archive\200510\SPE20051018a.html

3:49 PM  

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