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Monday, June 11, 2007

Today's Before Coffee Thoughts

I was just reading an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times written by a fellow named Roger Cohen, who works for the International Herald Tribune, which, I believe, is also owned by The Times. In it, he argues that the Democrats currently running for President shouldn't attack Mr Bush's record on homeland security because the country "is more secure" than it was before 9/11.

That may or may not be true. I really pretend to have no expertise in the matter. However, there were a couple of points that the article brought to mind.

First, I would like to float the notion that we should take the word "homeland" and bury it in a pit out back. It's a foolish and mindlessly nationalistic word that smells of fascism and isolationism. Let us sing, "America, America, land that I love," not "Homeland, Homeland ├╝ber alles."

Second, Mr Cohen makes the following statement: "The United States has escaped attack these past six years because it is harder to hit, not because the bomb-us-back-to-the-Caliphate boys took a time-out."

His conclusion is not backed up by any evidence. It is merely stated as a fact. And, while I'm not certain of the facts myself, it occurs to me that, although it may be more difficult for terrorists to attack us in exactly the same way again, there is no reason to believe that attacking us is any more difficult now than it was several years ago.

The thing that people don't think about in regard to terrorist attacks is that they are not made for any sort of tactical reason. They are horrific publicity stunts meant to draw attention to the grievances of the attackers and support to their cause while seeking to modify the policies of the attacked through the infliction of fear.

There is every reason to believe that al Qaeda has not attacked the United States since September 11, 2001, because there has been no reason to. Mr Bush's war in Iraq provides them with all the publicity they need. You'll notice, for example, that not only are you not hearing about terrorist attacks here, you're not hearing about them occurring anyplace else, either, outside of Afganistan, Iraq, and the Greater Israeli Metropolitan Area.

The whole idea of determining whether we are safer or less safe than before is idiotic and pointless. We should be looking at underlying causes and trying to understand what motivates those who would attack us (and it is not because they "hate our freedoms," whatever the hell that means) and design policies that undercut their motivations, their recruiting, and their value to others. The so-called War on Terror is actually mostly a war over ideas. The weapons with which to fight it are publicity, market research, and policy. And if that's not a war that we can win, I don't know what war we can.