Thursday, September 07, 2006

Luck, vigilance, Homeland Security, and luck

Writing in Slate, Jacob Weisberg examines “Five Years Free - Why haven’t we been attacked again?”:

Does President Bush deserve the credit he implicitly claimed in today's speech forwhat hasn't happened? One might argue that our half-decade of immunity from domestic terrorism is the result of circumstances largely beyond his control. Contrary to the alarmism spread in the wake of Sept. 11, al-Qaida did not have thousands of operatives nestled inside the country. We also turn out to have had some unappreciated strengths when it comes to fighting terrorism. The most important—as Daniel Benjamin and Steve Simon argue in The Next Attack—is that America's Muslims are more moderate, prosperous, and assimilated than Europe's and have not been willing to serve as hosts for jihad.

But any honest appraisal has to recognize that President Bush has indeed played a role in keeping the United States free from another attack. To say this is not to say that his policy choices have been wise or that they have truly made America safer over the long term, but simply that our avoidance of domestic terrorism over the past five years is not entirely coincidental.
I tend to side with George Will that America’s greatest asset against the jihadists is 300 million pairs of eyes looking out for trouble. Before 9/11, an airline passenger watching Richard Reid try to light up his sneakers might have looked on with puzzled detachment. Instead, the would-be terrorist got a punch in the head and a lifetime sentence in a SuperMax prison.


Brian said...

"All Bush has done is imprison and kill people for no reason for the last 5 years, instead of actually doing something about terrorism. All Bush has done is anger people around the world and make them want to attack us and kill us. It wasn't like that when Clinton was President, when we had world peace and prosperity. The world didn't hate us before Bush attacked Iraq to steal their oil."

- Actual argument by a liberal in one of my lawschool classes

Brainiac said...

What a fool! Doesn't he know that imprisoning people is a previously unknown "inherent Constitutional power"? Who is this dummy to disagree, a Supreme Court Justice? And tell Mr. Stupid that oil had nothing, absolutely nothing to do with Bush's foreign policy choices. The timing of the suddenly-a-go Unicol pipeline was sheer coincidence. And anyhow, we needed a way to transfer that Iraqi oil, the same oil that we were told would pay in full for any American military costs. Geez! Some people are just so dumb!

TGK said...

If you look at the chronology of major terror attacks on US targets (i.e. WTC '93, Khobar Towers, African embassies, etc.), you see that the intervals between attacks were about 1-1/2 to two years.

The five-year "quiet" period is significant, if you look at the big picture. Back in the 90's, we weren't responding to anything, and the problem got worse.