Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Thoughts on 9/11

I first thought about the anniversary this morning as I shaved. I thought, I wonder if any terrorist slime bag has managed to pull off some anniversary carnage, and because I'm in the bathroom away from the TV, I just haven't heard about it yet.

I got into the office, made a quick check of the headlines, no word of any attack. As the day went on, lots of tributes and remembrances, but no terrorist attacks, save in Iraq.

I suppose it's not too late yet for some malefactor to initiate some strike or bomb sequence, and pay homage to 9/11, but we're getting close to the failsafe limit for evening news broadcasts, and still no terror observance of the anniversary. As in previous years, Al Qaeda and Bin Laden pay lip service to their distorted idea of Jihad, but can't accomplish their promised reprisal against the West, against America.

Some lunatic takes an ax to a civilian in the Netherlands because he can't find a soldier. In Europe, that's surely symbolic for something. Some twisted, terrorist take on the saying, you may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you. The downside risks of juvenile thinking: what happens when you let other countries take care of your physical security, and other populations perform your menial labor.

I think the desperation and lunacy of the ax killing is symbolic of the dramatic failures of Al Qaeda since 2003 as well.

When the only people you can motivate your cause might just as well pull off some mass killing at a McDonalds as bury an ax into military substitutes, well, you're not much of a motivator for mayhem. There just aren't that many lunatics, and they get easily distracted and may murder off message.

You can view the significance of 9/11 any number of ways. A tragic attack that awakened us to a decades long war already waged against us. The grandest of a series of attacks meant to pacify or terrorize us into submission. The precursor to ever more dangerous and devious methods to exploit the soft underbelly of western democracies. I know some want to view it as a one-off aberration, unlikely to be repeated, but I think that's naïve, to put it charitably. Terror loses its power if it starts falling below a threshold of anticipated or "we've seen this before" mediocrity (in terror terms). Bin Laden and others of his ilk would always want to top their previous exploits.

Me, I remain anxious about how Al Qaeda, their admirers, or their state and non-state miscreants who adopt their methods, find a successor to 9/11 worthy of their grandiose visions of complete world domination. (Or domination of a significant proportion thereof.)

What happens when they deploy a nuke or dirty bomb? What happens if they co-opt and perfect weaponization of biological agents?

I'd like to think that we're seeing the last throes of a discredited threat, unable to win over converts, on the run, denied one safe haven after another, even former allies turning against them in cold calculation of what's in it for them.

But I think that may be naïve, as well.

There remain a great many people and disgruntled movements in the world who continue to resent the West, America, capitalism, markets, democracy, various forms of manufacturing, even modern entertainment industries and other cultural pollutants.

And for them, 9/11 will always be the World Series or Super Bowl of using violence to get attention.

How many terrorist wannabes are out there, hoping against hope and probability that they'll be able to give the world a new, more terrible substitute to 9/11 in collective dread?

Eventually, that wacko may have more at his disposal than an IED or an ax.


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