Wednesday, August 7, 2013


[Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab] was able to fly all the way from Europe to Detroit with a viable explosive device hidden in his underpants, a massive failure of intelligence and security.
Why al-Qaeda in Yemen scares the West
"A massive failure of intelligence and security?" Why? Is it really reasonable to expect that our intelligence apparatus will pick up every plot and that any security regime can detect ever possible explosive device? And even though the device was considered "viable," the device didn't go off as planned, and Abdulmutallab failed to bring down the plane.

The idea that we can protect everyone in "the West" from every "Radical Islamist" who intends to do harm strikes me as not only as impossible, but driving an expanding security state that increasingly jumps at shadows, yet must make each of those shadows into a deadly threat in order to maintain itself. Yet it must also be strangely selective in what threats it takes on. The murder rate in the United States has dropped to 50% of what it was in 1980, and still, Americans are much better at taking each other's lives than al-Qaeda has been.

Why the more mundane annual homicide toll in the United States, which is several times more than even that from the destruction of the World Trade Center towers isn't also considered "a massive failure of intelligence and security" is strange, and points to the odd dichotomy that it's possible to protect hundreds of millions of people from the rest of the world, but not from themselves, where, in theory, the authorities have more control over things.

This is, I think, an unhealthy way of looking at the world - as a looming threat, yet one that can somehow be completely neutralized. It's not possible to be completely "safe." I don't know that it's wise to imply that it is.

No comments: