Why Didn’t Waves of Terror Attacks in the USA Follow 9/11?
I was reminded of this question on Yahoo Answers, but in this case it’s a question I have heard bandied about for years. As people who lived through it know, after 9/11 hysterical media and government sponsored fear-mongering reached a fever pitch as our government sought infinite amounts of money to both expand the government and give carte Blanche to Bush’s Middle Eastern adventures, all in the name of protecting us against the hordes of Jihadi terrorists that were no doubt heading our way, if not already ensconced in sleeper cells in the USA just waiting for the secret code from OBL. Well, as we all know by now, the wave of attacks after 9/11 was pretty much absent in the USA at least. Yes, there were horrors in Spain, the UK, and Bali, but in the USA many people spent years freaking out every time a car backfired … all to no avail. So what happened? It’s an interesting question. The first thing that has to be said though is that explaining why something didn’t happen can be a little iffy. It’s really easy to simply ascribe the absence of attacks to whatever suits one’s agenda. We’ll look further at that in a moment, but the point here is that this essay is definitely on the speculative side. Finding out what is going on in the world is fraught with disinformation and clouded intelligence, finding out what’s not going on is even harder.
The first answer one might hear is that the War on Terror is working, numerous terror plots have been stopped in their tracks, and our wars overseas are fighting them there so they can’t get to us here. And if you believe that, I can sell you a charm that will protect you against any and all tiger attacks. So, um, I have a number of problems with this take on the situation, not the least of which it is advanced by people who are ardent supporters of the War on Terror, in fact often the people who claim that not enough is being done or that Obama is somehow weakening America. Yeah, increasing defence spending and widening our overseas wars isn’t enough, give me a break. In any event, the problem is that the terror attacks that have been broken up don’t withstand the light of day for the most part. RE almost all of them have been amateurish affairs where the instigator and impetus for the plot came from law enforcement infiltrators. In most cases they completely fell apart when they actually got to court. And there do not appear to be any cases where foreign terrorists have been caught trying to sneak ashore. And overseas, attacks on Americans are daily occurrence and are at constant levels not seen before 9/11. Endless attacks on Americans abroad that dwarf terror levels pre-9/11 seems like a strange definition of success to me.
In a more practical light, an obvious reason why foreign insurgents don’t attack us here is that it is difficult and expensive to cross oceans and launch attacks in a completely foreign land. Basically we are protected by geography, they can’t just hop a bus or jump in a speedboat and get to us. This is a good thing, and this is why there were very few foreign terrorist attacks in America before 9/11. The fact that the terror attack situation in the USA has remained constant before and after 9/11 argues that the War on Terror hasn’t been a big influence on reducing or preventing terrorist attacks.
The main reason we don’t see many attacks here is simple. Most terror groups, IE insurgents, are trying to drive invaders and occupiers from their lands. And as such they have a wealth of local target opportunities. Many of them make it very clear they are only attacking occupiers and have no interest in attacking the invader’s home lands. Look at the Vietnam War for example, the North Vietnamese could easily have launched at least some attacks in the USA, it doesn’t seem to have ever crossed their minds. The ugly truth is that the Taliban, the various Pakistan militants, the Somalis, Iraqi insurgents, and all the rest are attack ing Americans who invaded their lands, we attacked them, not vice versa.
Ah, but what about Al-Qaeda? Yes, very good point. Al-Qaeda is a different matter. Al-Qaeda is a new idea in insurgencies. They are in fact trying to “bring the war to America.” I should blog about them sometime. The point here is that the popular conception of Al-Qaeda as being this global organization is mostly false. Al-Qaeda is much more of a franchise headquarters. IE rather than trying to directly take action, Al-Qaeda tries to encourage local Muslim populations to take up the cause. In places the west (IE the USA) is fighting, this has created Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Al-Qaeda in Pakistan. Neither of these organizations existed before the USA invaded their regions. And in other parts of the globe Al Qaeda has inspired local attacks. Spain, the UK and Indonesia being good examples. And very possibly the Time’s Square would be bomber. Why hasn’t Al Qaeda attacked the USA directly again? Who knows, but the wealth of easy targets we have provided them in Iraq and Afghanistan likely plays a role. And frankly, as long as we are spending piles of money looking for non-existent Al-Qaeda members in the USA, they are winning. OBL did say his strategy is to get the USA to bankrupt itself, and we certainly seem determined to accommodate him.
In the final analysis, it doesn’t matter! For whatever reason, there hasn’t been another 9/11 or anything like it in the USA in nearly a decade. Maybe I’m going out on a limb, but I think this is a good thing. Yes, no terrorist attacks = good thing. The bad news is that the Obama administration is working very hard to encourage foreign terrorists to try for a repeat of 9/11. Yes, for whatever reason, the latest wrinkle in the War on Terror is that we are trying to provoke a 9/11 style attack. And isn’t that going to make an interesting blog topic for tomorrow?
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and its use here in no way interferes with the copyright holder’s commercial use of the image. Credit and copyright: Eye Vine. I wanted to get an image from “Invasion USA” but couldn’t find one. So I thought I’d post a Chuck Norris joke instead, but I couldn’t find one that wasn’t lame. Sheesh.)