I apologize for going on ad nauseum about war, but the IT industry is moribund and war is much on my mind. One thing I find interesting about the Osama bin Laden tape is that while the ostensible audience is Muslims around the world and Iraqis in particular, its purpose is also obviously to goad the United States. He mocks the United States for its failure to dislodge him from Afghanistan, and encourages the Iraqis to fight back (and for other Muslims to take up their cause). It seems obvious that Osama bin Laden wants this war as much as George W Bush does. Isn’t that a strange convergence of interests?

Oddly enough, we see the same thing in the Middle East between Israel and the Palestinians. Rejectionist Palestinian groups depend on ongoing conflict with Israel to preserve their very existence. If Palestinians live in relative harmony with Israelis, then they’ll shun the groups that preach violence. By the same token, right wing Israelis feel that they are entitled to the full territory of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and all of Jerusalem. If Israel and the Palestinians make peace, and a viable Palestinian state is established, then the ongoing resettlement of Israelis into “Samaria and Judea” will probably come to an end, and they’ll probably have to share Jerusalem with the new Palestinian state. So the extremes on both sides have a lot invested in maintaining the conflict, at the expense of the vast center, the people who just want to live their lives in relative peace, security, and prosperity.

Perhaps we should take something away from the fact that the vast majority of people around the world don’t want this war, and that the man who is personally responsible for the murder of thousands of Americans does. What’s good for the pro-war faction in America and for al-Qaeda just might not be good for the rest of us.

Update: a reader sent me this link to a story from last Sunday’s Washington Post describing how much Bush and Sharon have in common.