A Few Thoughts on a Terrible Day
First a thought, or perhaps an affirmation. The only response to acts of indiscriminate murder such as those today in London is implacable resistance -- and such resistance means not only retaliation against those responsible and guarding against all possible similar acts, but implacable resistance to terrorists' desire and aim to disrupt the rhythm of our daily lives and our civilization itself.
Today we've had a reminder of what we face. But let's be clear what we're seeing. In more venues than I'd care to admit I've seen posts and speechifying which say, in so many words: 'For all those who've gone wobbly on Iraq, see, you got complacent! But terrorism is real!'
The real threat we face isn't in Iraq. And being in Iraq isn't diminishing it. The real threat is painfully low-tech but yet highly-lethal acts of terror committed -- in most cases -- in the great metropoles of the West. And I suspect we'll find, as we did in 9/11, that the immediate perpetrators were neither people who were minding their own business before we invaded Iraq nor even people who have their main base in the core countries of the Arab Middle East, but rather recruits from the disaffected and deracinated diaspora of Muslim immigrants in the West -- a tiny fraction out of the millions who are making their homes in our country and in those of Europe.
Certainly, it's no accident that the two acts of terror in Europe in the last three years happened in America's two main Iraq war allies, though I agree with Ed Kilgore's point that the proximate message here is to the G8. That notwithstanding, what I take from all this is the fundamental irrelevance of Iraq to what happened today.
The threat of terrorism is very real, especially in major cities. But with respect to the folks who want to lasso this into a pillar of support for a disastrous policy in Iraq, frankly, we already knew terrorism was real. Most people are sick to death of our bumbling in Iraq because it's distracted us from actually defending ourselves.
The immediate answer to this is to hunt down the people immediately responsible, root out the primarily-non-state terror networks that support, plan and make these attacks possible and start getting about serious homeland defense -- port security, rail security, nuclear power plant security.
On that last count, what we've accomplished in the US over the last few years has been painfully inadequate, largely because of our focus on nation-states that have only a tenuous connection to this threat -- a lot of lies, mumbojumbo, and scurrilous and dark motives by the usual suspects notwithstanding.
Finally, I think we should look very closely at what actually happened today. It took a lot of coordination and it took a lot of lives. But it was extremely low-tech. It didn't take mad scientists or proliferated technology. And in a way that makes it all the harder to prevent.
Beside the threat we face from the bacillus of Islamic terror, President Bush has created a great running wound on the whole country in the form of the mess he's created in Iraq -- a wound bleeding blood, treasure and a scourge of national division which is now impossible to ignore but which we can ill-afford. Even now his cheerleaders are trying to enlist this outrage in the battle to prop up their folly in Iraq. If anything our folly in Iraq has made the immediacy and intensity of this basic threat worse. But let's not be blinded by our outrage at that folly or distracted from thinking concretely, together and resolutely, how we defend our innocents from such religious fanaticism and the violence it spawns.
(ed.note: It's not normally policy. But since the problems with the site mentioned below have kept me from posting until now, I've cross-posted this entry to TPMCafe as well.)