The last three days
the rain was unstoppable.
I was always cold,
--Running Down a Dream, Tom Petty
Day 1,000 of the Siege of Seattle.
The Muslim community demands an end
to the Army's occupation of mosques
--Children of Men (2006)
Is it Tomorrow or Just the End of Time
--Purple Haze, Jimi Hendrix
The old expert formula for successful terror activity was that it should be significant and spectacular. This formula was definitely in play at the Twin Towers on 9-11-01. In addition, subsequent attacks had to surpass the previous scenarios for shock effect and newsworthiness.
Today, this rule has taken an inexplicable flip-flop.
The present trend is de-escalated attacks and planned attacks that never reach the completion stage. We have had shoe (non) bomber Reid, undie (non) bomber Abdulmutallab, Zazi, Jihad Jane, the Fort Dix Six, and surprisingly, these inept excuses for terrorists STILL cause the U.S. citizenry to overreact. Most citizens actually believe that we are at grave risk on a continuous basis as a result of these ballyhooed bombers manque.
National security policies are then enacted reflecting this unreasoned fear generated by a minimal threat. The terrorist dangers to which we are reacting are a joke when systematically examined. Have Americans lost their ability to discern and face real danger?
As stated before, the far threat posed by al Qaeda to the U.S. is not the same as the near threat posed by that organization in Afghanistan or Iraq. In case this fact escapes our notice, neither of these locales are part of the U.S. -- not lately, anyway.
Historically, the goal of terrorism was to prove that the target population could not be safegaurded by the government. The message was that the groups were ultimately more powerful than the government's ability to counter their threat. This was true of both international and transnational groups.
Today, however, the U.S. government -- when operating in a thoughtful and deliberate manner -- is clearly able to identify and neutralize attacks before they fully develop. Since this is true, why do we still accept terrorism as a credible threat? Present policy implies and confers power upon terror groups that is NOT reflective of their actual capabilities.
This regression is the most significant feature of terrorism today, yet it escapes comment by our national security specialists and the media.