Article by Kevin Carson.
Since the announced killing of Emanuel Goldstein — er, Osama Bin Laden — I’ve seen a lot of speculation on what kind of big terror attack we can expect in retaliation. But if Al Qaeda was capable of a large-scale, spectacular reprisal attack, I think they’d already have done it between 9-11 and now.
Their actual pattern since then has been poorly organized, penny ante attacks, carried out by poorly trained people — suggesting that Al Qaeda picked the low-hanging fruit on 9-11. It’s quite plausible that, given enough incompetent attempts, somebody will eventually succeed in detonating a bomb and blowing up a plane in the air. Enough monkeys with enough typewriters and enough time, and all that. But even if it happens, the damage will be limited to the passengers on one plane out of millions of flights in any one year. With hardened cockpits and passengers who understand that the goal of hijacking has changed, it will never be possible to fly a plane into a high-value target again. And it’s unlikely all the TSA security theater in the airports, aimed at preventing the previous attack, is good for anything except satisfying the “Well, we have to do SOMETHING!” idjuts.
The interesting thing, though, is that however poorly planned and executed the attacks have been, they were conducted in accordance with a brilliant strategic vision of maximizing bang for the buck in terms of the U.S. government stupidity they provoke. An attempt to smuggle explosives on a plane doesn’t have to be anything more than crude and ineffectual, because TSA’s knee-jerk overreaction — not blowing up the plane — is the real goal. The goal is to make the passenger screening process, the x-raying of all cargo, etc., so onerous, humiliating, expensive and time-consuming that air traffic shrinks radically and the U.S. economy takes a hit. The goal is for the American people to see their government as intrusive, arbitrary, and callous.
The goal is also for the U.S. government, in response, to stay bogged down in endless wars in the Islamic world, radicalizing the people there and causing them to see the U.S. as a crusader army — in the meantime wearying and demoralizing the U.S. population and bankrupting the government. To paraphrase the late Mr. Bin Laden, it’s only necessary for a couple of brothers with “Al Qaeda” written on a piece of cloth to show themselves in Antarctica, and the President will send Marines to fight the penguins there “so we won’t have to fight them here.”