Wednesday 25 Nov 2020 | 01:32 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 25 Nov 2020 | 01:32 | SYDNEY

Could Osama bin Laden run a country?


Sam Roggeveen


15 February 2008 15:28

In her Lowy Institute paper, The End of the Vasco de Gama Era, Coral Bell, somewhat cheekily, called for a resurrection of the Caliphate (pp.35-37).  She argued that, even though this might be precisely what Osama bin Laden has called for and could encourage extremists, it would give the West a state-based counterpart with which to negotiate, an impossibility at the moment, since we don't negotiate with terrorists. Bell favours the idea of a politically moderate Caliphate, but even an extremist one has advantages. For one thing, forcing them to govern exposes their unpopularity and incompetence. A case in point from the NY Times recently (via Daniel Drezner):

Since being swept to power in 2002 on a wave of anti-Americanism and sympathy for the Taliban after the American invasion of Afghanistan, the mullahs here have found that the public mood has shifted against them. People complain that they have failed to deliver on their promises, that they have proved just as corrupt as other politicians and that they have presided over a worsening of security, demonstrated most vividly in a rising number of suicide attacks carried out by militants based in the nearby tribal areas.

“They did not serve the people,” said Faiz Muhammad, 47, a farmer whose son was killed in the bomb blast on an Awami political gathering on Saturday.

The shift in mood here may be a bellwether of larger trends nationwide. The religious parties held 59 seats in the 342-member Parliament, making them a kingmaker at critical times, like helping President Pervez Musharraf to extend his military rule. But this time their number may fall to single digits, according to some estimates.