It really isn’t necessary for Al Qaeda to bring down an airplane or accomplish some other that results in the death of American citizens or destruction of its property. Simply making the attempt, however futile and, yes ludicrous it is, seems to be sufficient to advance their cause.
Over the weekend and today, talk radio, the MSM and even the blogosphere has focused on the attempt to bring down a plane bound for Detroit. Never mind, that the hapless attempt involved a man setting his underpants afire based on his faith that the terrorists in Yemen who outfitted him with them assured him that indeed they would explode and lead him to his rendezvous with virgins in the hereafter.
That he failed to destroy anything other than the most cherished part of his anatomy is beside the point. He succeeded in spooking the entire country and set the political establishment into a dither as they tried to explain how such a thing could happen and once again assure one and all that never again need they worry about a plane falling out of the sky.
Of course they can’t prevent it and more to the point, it’s highly unlikely that the terrorists can cause it to happen. Unfortunately, the terrorists don’t actually have to make a plane crash. All they have to do is send along crazies willing to burn off their toes or more precious body parts and wait for the American transportation system to self-destruct on its own.
A modern post-industrial society is one which necessarily operates on a great deal of trust in complex systems operating more or less reliably. Throw a little sand in these highly machined gears and it grunts and grinds noticeably. Scare people a little, get the government to overreact and then sit back and watch everyone twitch. It’s an old, old strategy and we’re being sucked into it as have many others before.
Better if Obama had stood up today and laughed at the ludicrousness of the entire episode. Make fun of the high school chemists who dreamed up this ruse and point out that they haven’t been able to do anything credible to us since 9/11. Promising further investigations into bureaucratic failures, tightening security procedures, assuring the public that risk will be erased from their lives only sets the stage for the next incident and a further tightening of the liberties we enjoy.
By all means, promise them that we will find them and let it be known that there will be some vengeance delivered when that happens. At the same time don’t let them think they have you on the run. Call their bluff and treat them like the annoyance they are becoming.