Friday, July 15, 2005

Can It Happen?

Two things that struck me about the London bombings. First, the men who carried them out don't come across as hard line Islamist fanatics. They were in almost all respect ordinary (see here, here, here and here). Second, despite early reports that powerful military type explosive were used, the reality is that the bombs were made with readily available household chemicals.

The men who carried out the
London attacks, were unique only in the fact that they were all Britons. They were home grown to the extent that any first generation immigrant can be home grown. Yet, to a larger extent, they were much like the men who have carried out Islamist terror attacks all over the world. The 9/11 hijackers were by all accounts ordinary men.

How do we defeat terror in our midst when it is carried out by ordinary men? Men with families, children, jobs...all the trapping of normalcy. And, when these attacks happen, who do we attack?

After 9/11, going after Al Queda in
Afghanistan as both a military and police action was the appropriate response. But, President Bush stopped short of actually breaking Al Queda and turned to Iraq. I don't pretend to understand why we to the battle with only country in the Middle East where Al Queda had no significant presence and no financial support. Yet, that is what we did.

What will we do if the United State suffers another attack? If, it is a London/Madrid level bombing, do we go back to doing what the British are doing today? Police work, investigating leads and running the perpetrators to ground? Or, do we do what the Bush Administration has been doing for the last three years? Nothing. Wasting instead precious resources in Iraq.

What if the next attack on our country is of the 9/11 scale? How do we respond to another attack by Saudi college students? Do we attack Syria or Iran? We can hardly attack our major oil supplier and Bush family partner can we? Do we demand political and social reforms in the world capital of terror finance? Do we do nothing because we have waste so much time and so many resources in Iraq?

What if the next attack is the BIG ONE? The one that we intellectually acknowledge could happen, but which we can not emotionally accept as a real possibility. Over at the far edge of the right wing media, where insanity is just the next word away, there has been noise recently about 40 or more nuclear weapons already in Al Queda's possession.

Al-Qaida's plans, known as "America's Hiroshima" according to captured terrorists and terrorist documents, calls for the multiple detonation of nuclear weapons, already in the possession of Osama bin Laden's operatives currently inside the U.S. The agents and arms having been smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border with the help of the MS-13 street gang and other organized crime groups...

This type of "news" keeps the wingnuts' wingnuts up at night listening to the real story of Big Foot, alien abductions and pre-position Soviet nukes being sold to Al Queda.

The problem here isn't that this story is so bizzare, it's just that this at its core, this story is only a group of ordinary men and one nuclear device from being true. If, an American city were to end up under a mushroom cloud, who would we attack? How will we justify the Bush decision to outsource the search for
Osama bin Laden? How will we justify the Bush decision to go easy on his Saudi partners, whose money bankrolls much of the Islamist terror in the world.

Who will we attack if the unthinkable happens to one of our cities?

What will we tell the dead?