The foiled terrorist plot in Britain last week
has me concluding that the terrorists have won, and that President Bush has
handed them their victory.
"This week, America received a stark reminder that terrorists are still
plotting attacks to kill our people," President Bush said in his weekly
radio address Saturday. "This plot is further evidence that the terrorists
we face are sophisticated, and constantly changing their tactics."
Yet another airline hijacking plot constitutes a change in tactics?
Does Bush really believe such claptrap?
In fact, the terror plot has me wondering: Why should we be so alarmed when
all of the terror plots uncovered (along with those actually completed) are
more of the same – airplane hijackings, car bombs, and individuals with explosives
strapped to their bodies?
It seems obvious to me that the terrorists we've supposedly been fighting are
somewhat lacking in the "new ideas" department. They are eons behind
the mythical bad guys in the show 24, or the paranoid rantings of Republican
talk radio, where all a terrorist need do to get a working nuclear bomb is pull
into a convenience store in Kazakhstan and show an al-Qaeda membership card.
It's becoming apparent that Sept. 11 was the best that they could do: the terrorists'
best and luckiest shot.
Bush administration flunkies (and their apologists in the talk radio/Fox News
nexus) keep reminding us that it is a "changed world" after Sept.
11. But if the world is so different, how come the terrorists are still repeating
yesteryear's terror tactics?
Even if these hijackings were to succeed, the incidents themselves were somewhat
less ambitious than Sept. 11 and wouldn't by themselves change our way of life.
In terms of fatalities, we're talking about the equivalent of less than two
months' worth of automobile accidents in the United States. Certainly, the American
people have not demanded an end to freedoms in the Bill of Rights because of
automobile accidents – which account for a much greater annual loss of life
than terrorism. Property damage in the British plot would have been insignificant
compared to the Sept. 11 destruction of the World Trade Center.
Of course, they could succeed if they make us so afraid that we overreact to
this rather modest threat. That's the whole goal of terrorism. It's not to kill,
but to terrorize, and cause people to change their behavior and way of life
To quote a president I didn't care for much: "The only thing we have to
fear is fear itself."
But President Bush and his confederates in the West Wing have a different plan.
They are serving up a heaping helping of fearmongering these days:
"Let's just ask a simple question: What's the best way to win the war
on terror? The goal is to win the war on terror, and what are the consequences
of losing. General Abizaid last week – I don't think anybody is going to accuse
him of politicizing it – said, if we walk out of Iraq, they're going to follow
us. The fact is that the perception of weakness has always been – and has been
cited by bin Laden and others as an act of encouragement and inducement for
people to commit acts of terror and to work more aggressively to kill Americans."
- White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, Aug.
"Since 9/11, the threat reporting has consistently shown that there
is a vicious and determined enemy that is intent on harming American lives."
- Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Aug.
We have overreacted to an unimaginative terror threat: car bombs and airplane
hijackings. In response to Sept. 11, 2001, a serious terrorist incident that
killed the equivalent of two months' worth of automobile accident victims in
the United States, we have:
President Bush told a
joint session of Congress on Sept. 20, 2001, that "Americans are asking,
why do they hate us? … They hate our freedoms." A cynic would point out
that, according to President Bush, they should now have scant reason for hating
us. Yet these attacks continue. So much for the president's theory.
Bush says the terrorists hate us for our freedom, so we are surrendering our
freedom because we are terrified.
In short, the terrorists have won. George Bush has given them their victory.