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Hullabaloo


Monday, January 30, 2006

 
When Thrill Rides Turn Deadly

by tristero

I'd like to riff a moment on Digby's post, that radical Islamism does not pose an existential threat to the US.

Digby is absolutely right that radical Islamism has been so overly hyped and pornographied, and the "war on terror" so fictionalized, that we are more like a country watching a horror film than a country at war. It is absolutely the case that bin Laden's gang can't possibly bring down the US government.* And while it is distressingly easier than it ought to be for bin Ladenists to acquire nuclear technology, it is highly unlikely in the next few years that a nuclear attack - or even a biochem attack - will succeed. When you think about how hard it is to acquire, store, weaponize, manufacture, ship, deploy, and initiate an attack, it becomes very clear that this is beyond the technological capabilities, as we know them, of al Qaeda, even assuming that some members hold degrees in engineering. It is no accident that al Qaeda's spectacular attacks involved box cutters and simple bombs.

But there's an important caveat which I'm sure both Digby, Glenn Greenwald, and others are aware of, even if they disagree with my argumentation here. Radical Islamism is not an existential threat today. But given that the Bush administration has turned Iraq into a terrorist petri dish and that Afghanistan is little better - and that's just for starters - it is very likely that the growing isolation and consequent increasingly virulent opposition to the US will create a self-fulfilling prophecy. More secularized opponents of the US will have more and more reasons - the death of their children, for example, by US bombs - to become radicalized. And if the US traumatizes enough people, and makes it clear, as Bush stupidly does, that it is the US who is doing the traumatizing, you will eventually have a population of very angy young people which includes the technologically sophisticated, people who hate our guts and also have the wherewithal to inflict considerable damage to US populations through guerilla operations of many different sorts.

A cynic, or a paranoid, might think that a terrorist breeding ground was the goal all along for Bush/ Iraq - to create a genuine existential threat for the US to fight - which would maximize profits, destroy liberalism, etc. I don't think that's so. It's too simplistic a formulation to satisfy me; the world is more complicated than that. But in a certain sense it doesn't really matter. Deliberate psychopathy or blithering stupidity or both: The reality is that Bush has opened the gates of Hell.

There is still some time, I think to close the gates and contain the horror, but what, exactly, should the US do? The first thing is to get Bush and Bushism out of power. That is a necessary precondition to avert disaster. Since Bush will not be impeached, rational observers must operate under the assumption that the world situation by 2009 will almost certainly be very dire. Let's set aside all that can still go wrong and which Bush will certainly do wrong in the next few years. The fact remains that many of the children of Bush's victims - and let's not forget, Iraq has a very young population - will be in their late teens. Many will be growing up fully committed to radical anti-US movements. And some of them will be very, very smart. And there will be no way to kill 'em all, even if there were hundreds of Fallujahs, even if it were just.

So what should the US do in 2009? I don't have a clue. But I do know what not to do: continue the suicidal policies of the Bush administration. I'm talking not only about respecting fundamental human rights. A full repudiation of Bushism - from its economic terrorism to its lust for military "solutions" - would be a minimum first step. What to do after that is anyone's guess.

If the US wishes to avoid serious danger, it will simply have to stop aspiring to rule the world in a militarily and economically enforced Pax Americana. It will need brilliant leadership to negotiate the Post-Bush world, a world this total moron of a president made immeasurably more dangerous than the one he presumed to rule in January 2001.

I don't fear the present - in spite of my dread. I don't even fear al Qaeda, but I admit they worry me a great, great deal. I don't even fear al Qaeda's sons and daughters. What I fear more than anything is that the US will continue to place in power catastrophically awful leaders who will fulfill their own prophecies of Armageddon by acting to cause it.


*Unless, of course, the US government is even more negligent than they were prior to September 11, and that seems pretty unlikely, imo.

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