Jump to content

Is the al Qaida Networlk doomed to failure?


charles brough
 Share

Recommended Posts

I agree that another attack would bring it quickly back. In my first post on this subject I said that one of the reasons people weren't afraid was because of the successes of the war on terror. Terrorists would love nothing more than to drop planes from the sky but they've been unable to follow up on the success of 9/11.

They only succeeded in 3 out of 4 attacks on 9/11 - if you recall, the fourth plane went down before it could be dropped onto a target.

 

That wasn't because of the TSA, the DHS, enhanced interrogations or any of the policies we now have to keep us "safe" - it was the fact that passengers were able to crowd-source with other civilians (often family members) 1000s of miles away thanks to cell phones that (even in 2001) could connect and maintain calls despite being captives in the back of a 757 screaming through the air.

 

Just the consumer technology to achieve that in itself is pretty amazing; it's a testament to our passion for open, unfettered communication. A free and open press also had a lot to do with it - had we been the sort of society to impose a media blackout during an attack, the results of Flight 93 could have been very different.

 

They never attempted that sort of hijacking again because the main trick they used to pull it off (that civilians would cooperate if they believed only a ransom was desired) failed within 29 minutes the last time it was used. Just consider that when "wheels up" occurred on flight 93, no one had heard of a plane being used as a bomb. The hijackers didn't take the plane until 9:28, and the passengers cooperated until 9:57 when they figured out what was happening.

 

Sorry, but I just can't give that one to the "successes on the war on terror" when it was "American civilians just being civilians" that stopped Al Qaeda's plane dropping strategy in it's tracks, only minutes into the first and last day to ever be used.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The funny thing about fear is how those who feel it most deny it most. It seems to be a hard-wired reaction, especially in males, to puff out their chests and gesture broadly around them, demanding to know where there is anything to fear.

Even if I heard people denying fear I'd be more inclined to believe fear is common. But from my perspective it is not even so much that people deny being afraid, it is that people don't talk about it at all. For the most part any discussions I hear about terrorism and terrorists comes from this site, and thus far I've not heard anyone here say they are afraid. I don't hear it from friends and family or even on the news much. The only time it seems to come up is when politicians talk about costs in terms of dollars or relations with other countries.

 

One of the real and observable aspects of this fear is our two-party voting system. We know rationally that two parties can't possibly adequately represent all the viewpoints in America, yet we routinely use it just to make sure "the other guy" doesn't get elected. And this relates directly to terrorism since none of the candidates is offering up a proposal to stop wasting so many resources on an untenable, non-sustainable, heavily lopsided "War on Terror". If the American public doesn't fear terrorists, why can't they see the ridiculousness of spending so much to save so few from such a tiny comparative threat?

I think many do see that we are wasting a great deal of money. I think many others are no more educated about the cost of fighting terrorism as they are about healthcare. I also think that one of the main reasons people don't fear terrorists is because we spend so much money on the war on terror. If we weren't spending the money and bombs were periodically going off around the country, then I think the fear would return.

 

If there is a mean dog roaming the neighborhood and it chewed up some people I will be afraid of it because it could get to me and my kids. But once I put in my 12 foot brick wall around my property I will no longer fear that dog. I may have wasted a lot of money protecting myself from that dog, but it did get me to stop fearing it.

 

I am not suggesting we are spending our money wisely or making the best decisions, I am just suggesting that the result of that spending is that Americans are not living in fear of terrorism.

 

In the 50s, many people felt safe from the Soviet nuclear threat only after building backyard underground bomb shelters. Are you telling me that feeling of safety, bought with an inordinately excessive amount of resources, wasn't born out of fear? Don't you see the parallels to the vastly inflated resources we're allowing to be spent now to keep us safe from a much lesser threat?

You are missing my point. As you said people in the 50s felt safe after building bomb shelters, even if it was a waste of money.

People now feel safe after all the money the government has spent. It may have been born out of fear but the fear has gone away.

 

If people did not feel safe from terrorism now I expect we'd see them spending their own money on today's version of bomb shelters. I am not aware of people doing this now. If you know differently it would go a long way to convincing me that you are correct and people are afraid of terrorism.

 

Terror makes people behave in disproportionately irrational ways. They will allow just about anything to make it go away. Considering what we currently allow, even require, from our leaders, can you really say ours is a rational response?

I agree the response is not rational. I don't think that proves people are fearful.

 

I can honestly say that I have known people who stopped their strong political activism due to the the threat of extra-legal sanctions by terrorist organisations.

Is this something reasonably current?

 

I have spent extended period living, and know many people from Belfast - Northern Ireland - and the constant menace of punishment/attack/murder by the paramilitary wings of the extreme political parties was a constant barrier to more liberal/non-militaristic members taking the lead. Quite often this fear was generated by the extremists "on the same side" as the liberal.

I have no doubt that fear abounded there during The Troubles. Is it current?

 

I think the difference between The Troubles and what is currently going on in Europe and the US is that during The Troubles there were people who were quite successful killing those around you. There was a real danger that you or someone you cared about could die soon. That risk is not the same for current Europeans and Americans.

 

Sorry, but I just can't give that one to the "successes on the war on terror" when it was "American civilians just being civilians" that stopped Al Qaeda's plane dropping strategy in it's tracks, only minutes into the first and last day to ever be used.

I agree completely that Flight 93 was foiled by civilians.

 

I completely disagree that terrorists will no longer try to drop planes because of civilians. Civilians are not proactive in trying to discover who is making plans, who is trying to buy explosives, locations of terrorists, what techniques are being developed to sneak explosives aboard, who is trying to obtain shoulder fired missiles, the risks associated with airspace around targets, who is signing up for training to fly an airplane, sharing intelligence with foreign governments, sending luggage through x-ray, and the thousands of other things that are done as part of the war on terror.

 

Civilians don't plan on how to stop terrorism before it hits and are not able to launch fighter jets.

 

What they are good at is personally fighting back rather passively accepting death.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Even if I heard people denying fear I'd be more inclined to believe fear is common. But from my perspective it is not even so much that people deny being afraid, it is that people don't talk about it at all. For the most part any discussions I hear about terrorism and terrorists comes from this site, and thus far I've not heard anyone here say they are afraid. I don't hear it from friends and family or even on the news much. The only time it seems to come up is when politicians talk about costs in terms of dollars or relations with other countries.

 

 

I think many do see that we are wasting a great deal of money. I think many others are no more educated about the cost of fighting terrorism as they are about healthcare. I also think that one of the main reasons people don't fear terrorists is because we spend so much money on the war on terror. If we weren't spending the money and bombs were periodically going off around the country, then I think the fear would return.

 

If there is a mean dog roaming the neighborhood and it chewed up some people I will be afraid of it because it could get to me and my kids. But once I put in my 12 foot brick wall around my property I will no longer fear that dog. I may have wasted a lot of money protecting myself from that dog, but it did get me to stop fearing it.

 

I am not suggesting we are spending our money wisely or making the best decisions, I am just suggesting that the result of that spending is that Americans are not living in fear of terrorism.

 

 

You are missing my point. As you said people in the 50s felt safe after building bomb shelters, even if it was a waste of money.

People now feel safe after all the money the government has spent. It may have been born out of fear but the fear has gone away.

 

If people did not feel safe from terrorism now I expect we'd see them spending their own money on today's version of bomb shelters. I am not aware of people doing this now. If you know differently it would go a long way to convincing me that you are correct and people are afraid of terrorism.

I think you're arguing that there's no visible fear because we believe we're protected, and I'm arguing that fear is the motivation for all the disproportionate measures to safeguard us from terrorists. If a politician came along and pointed out rationally how silly it is and how much we've crippled ourselves with this inordinate response to an isolated attack from a (then) tiny aggressor, and suggested we implement a much more measured response, I think the public would scream and call for his head. And what would be the motivation for that, other than fear that the terrorists would attack again?

 

Let's use your "mean dog" example. If I could show you that the odds of the dog (which is still at large) attacking your family without your brick wall in place are a million to one, would that keep you from building it in the first place? Or would you argue that the one chance in a million is enough to warrant the extravagant and completely disproportionate expense to protect your family? And what would your motivation be for continuing to have it built? Wouldn't it be fear?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree completely that Flight 93 was foiled by civilians.

 

I completely disagree that terrorists will no longer try to drop planes because of civilians. Civilians are not proactive in trying to discover who is making plans, who is trying to buy explosives, locations of terrorists, what techniques are being developed to sneak explosives aboard, who is trying to obtain shoulder fired missiles, the risks associated with airspace around targets, who is signing up for training to fly an airplane, sharing intelligence with foreign governments, sending luggage through x-ray, and the thousands of other things that are done as part of the war on terror.

Trying to set shoes and underwear on fire to blow up a plane in the air is a very different sort of attack than hijacking a plane to use as a weapon.

 

It's also worth noting that in those cases, it was again passengers on the planes that thwarted those attempts - not all the people sending luggage through x-rays, groping children and old ladies, and wide-net no fly lists.

 

 

Civilians don't plan on how to stop terrorism before it hits and are not able to launch fighter jets.

How many terrorist attacks have been thwarted by fighter jets?

 

What they are good at is personally fighting back rather passively accepting death.

They did a lot more than that - they figured out what was happening, reacted to the new information, and changed their strategy accordingly.

 

I am not saying that there is no place for improved security procedures - but airport security is nothing more than dinner theater. A friend of mine left the country and came back and it wasn't until she was back in Miami that she even realized she had a giant hunting knife in her carry on purse for the whole trip - it went through x-ray both times, it just didn't show up buried in the loose change in the bottom... of course if they found toothpaste on the scan they'd have dug through everything, but they didn't.... and yet again the sad charade we call airport security grinds along at umpteen dollars an hour.

If you think Al-Qaeda is sitting around plotting how, if only they could get around the TSA they could finally make an attack again you're missing the point - Al Qaeda knows US airport security is a joke. The last three attacks I am aware of (Flight 93, the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber) were all thwarted by passengers, and all got past airport security - the last two were even post 9-11. Am I missing some stellar TSA work somewhere? What terrorists have been caught trying to board a plane with explosives?

 

If there is a mean dog roaming the neighborhood and it chewed up some people I will be afraid of it because it could get to me and my kids. But once I put in my 12 foot brick wall around my property I will no longer fear that dog. I may have wasted a lot of money protecting myself from that dog, but it did get me to stop fearing it.

If you really stopped fearing the dog, you wouldn't be staring at a 12 foot brick wall every time you set foot outside your house, you'd be able to chat with your neighbors instead of just hear them walking around on the other side of that wall, and your kids would be playing in the sun instead of under the shadow of a bloody massive 12 foot brick wall.

 

That's almost as silly as saying "You're not afraid to speak freely" because you feel safe behind a wall of self-censorship. If you're scared to live your life, you haven't gotten past the fear simply because you're not afraid to not live your life.

Edited by padren
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think you're arguing that there's no visible fear because we believe we're protected, and I'm arguing that fear is the motivation for all the disproportionate measures to safeguard us from terrorists. If a politician came along and pointed out rationally how silly it is and how much we've crippled ourselves with this inordinate response to an isolated attack from a (then) tiny aggressor, and suggested we implement a much more measured response, I think the public would scream and call for his head. And what would be the motivation for that, other than fear that the terrorists would attack again?

Well, I think we both agree that fear was what started the disproportionate measures. The disagreement seems to be on why it is still going on. You seem to think it is fear by the public and I believe it is other things.

 

My most likely candidates for why it continues, in no particular order:

1. Inertia. A giant bureaucracy moving forward will remain moving forward...

2. Lack of public outcry. "Well, we are not being blown up now, and if I complained, who would listen?"

3. Politics. A politician who is foolish enough to advocate cutting out the fight against "those godless freedom hating terrorists" will be eviscerated by members of both parties. This is the one place I do see a lot of fear. A fear by politicians that they will lose their jobs. Whoever blinks first will be thought of as soft on terror. Just like public healthcare. People are against it because the other guy is for it.

EDIT: Sorry, I missed an obvious #4.

4. People would be afraid if we did not do it. (This may even be where we differ and we may not even be at odds. You are saying fear is why we are doing it, and I've been taking that to mean you think we are afraid now. I am saying we are not afraid now but would be if we didn't keep fighting terror. I think maybe we are looking at different sides of the same coin.)

 

Let's use your "mean dog" example. If I could show you that the odds of the dog (which is still at large) attacking your family without your brick wall in place are a million to one, would that keep you from building it in the first place? Or would you argue that the one chance in a million is enough to warrant the extravagant and completely disproportionate expense to protect your family? And what would your motivation be for continuing to have it built? Wouldn't it be fear?

Yes it would keep me from building it in the first place (same reason I don't buy lottery tickets), and I wouldn't keep building it.

 

But it is too late now. Everyone was afraid when we built it. If the dog/terrorist is still out there I may as well leave the wall up and keep maintaining it. If someone in Congress could quietly cut upgrades but kept the wall in place I don't think there would be many complaints.

 

 

Trying to set shoes and underwear on fire to blow up a plane in the air is a very different sort of attack than hijacking a plane to use as a weapon.

Again, I agree completely. It is unlikely that anyone will try to hijack a plane full of passengers to use as a weapon and this is because of civilians. That is why I was talking about "dropping planes from the sky". You don't have to hijack a plane to drop it from the sky.

 

It's also worth noting that in those cases, it was again passengers on the planes that thwarted those attempts - not all the people sending luggage through x-rays, groping children and old ladies, and wide-net no fly lists.

Again, I have no argument that when a person is confronted by someone trying to kill them, they will fight back.

 

How many terrorist attacks have been thwarted by fighter jets?

As far as I know, zero.

 

And if we are going to make those kinds of arguments:

 

If a terrorist attack can be thwarted by fighter jets, how often will it be plane passengers who launch the fighter jets?

 

They did a lot more than that - they figured out what was happening, reacted to the new information, and changed their strategy accordingly.

Well, they talked on a phone first, then they fought back rather than passively accept death. I don't see that as a lot more.

 

I am not saying that there is no place for improved security procedures - but airport security is nothing more than dinner theater. A friend of mine left the country and came back and it wasn't until she was back in Miami that she even realized she had a giant hunting knife in her carry on purse for the whole trip - it went through x-ray both times, it just didn't show up buried in the loose change in the bottom... of course if they found toothpaste on the scan they'd have dug through everything, but they didn't.... and yet again the sad charade we call airport security grinds along at umpteen dollars an hour.

If you think Al-Qaeda is sitting around plotting how, if only they could get around the TSA they could finally make an attack again you're missing the point - Al Qaeda knows US airport security is a joke. The last three attacks I am aware of (Flight 93, the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber) were all thwarted by passengers, and all got past airport security - the last two were even post 9-11. Am I missing some stellar TSA work somewhere? What terrorists have been caught trying to board a plane with explosives?

I'm afraid you are missing my point. There is no question that money is wasted or that some aspects of the security system don't work well. The point is that if we did not spend money fighting terrorism, many more people would be dead and people would be living in fear.

 

If you really stopped fearing the dog, you wouldn't staring at a 12 foot brick wall every time you set foot outside your house, you'd be able to chat with your neighbors instead of just hear them walking around on the other side of that wall, and your kids would be playing in the sun instead of under the shadow of a bloody massive 12 foot brick wall.

Except for when we are at the emergency room. Don't forget that the wall did serve a purpose.

 

That's almost as silly as saying "You're not afraid to speak freely" because you feel safe behind a wall of self-censorship. If you're scared to live your life, you haven't gotten past the fear simply because you're not afraid to not live your life.

You might want to read my posts again. I am living my life. I am not in fear. I am not suffering due to security measures. No one I know is suffering. No one from TSA has been anything but nice to me. I'm travelling to Mexico this year. My son just went to Norway. I don't give flying a second thought.

 

I feel safe and I am happy.

Edited by zapatos
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would say that the fear being felt isn't overt, and that's why it's so insidious. It's the kind of fear that stops you from speaking out against injustice or oppression. The kind of fear that keeps you from rocking the boat. The kind of fear that makes you despair of things getting better, so you settle for a meager status quo.

 

And make no mistake, all it would take to bring it all back into focus is another attack. The knee-jerk reaction to an explosion on Main Street would probably be intense. Fifteen years ago the majority assumption would most likely have been "gas leak", but now it would most likely be "bomb". When explosions do happen these days, authorities are quick to report they've ruled out a purposeful attack, and that's usually the first question the reporters ask, and the first question we all want answered. That's fear, imo.

Yes. I agree but why have we been so fearful? Every year some 65,000 Americans die because they got into their car, but the public has been terrorized by the death of a mere 3,000 in New York. Why do many more veterans kill themselves than have been killed by the enemy? Why are seemingly normal men going berserk and setting out to kill as many people as possible? This is not the America of WWI and WWII. It would seem that the level of stress has risen. That may explain why such problems now plague us.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I think we both agree that fear was what started the disproportionate measures. The disagreement seems to be on why it is still going on. You seem to think it is fear by the public and I believe it is other things.

 

1. Inertia. A giant bureaucracy moving forward will remain moving forward...

Oh, I think it's been far more than mere inertia. I think there have been very active efforts at pushing this rolling boulder down the hill, efforts that make darn sure it hits all the most lucrative spots.

 

2. Lack of public outcry. "Well, we are not being blown up now, and if I complained, who would listen?"

This is part of what bothers me most, and why I label it fear. Why haven't we been crying out, ever since we found out that Hussein had no nukes and the whole Iraq vampire war was draining us dry? Why continue such a costly campaign when it's been proven to actually create more terrorists?

 

3. Politics. A politician who is foolish enough to advocate cutting out the fight against "those godless freedom hating terrorists" will be eviscerated by members of both parties. This is the one place I do see a lot of fear. A fear by politicians that they will lose their jobs. Whoever blinks first will be thought of as soft on terror. Just like public healthcare. People are against it because the other guy is for it.

I think "soft on terror' would be easier to sell to the public in these times than you think, especially when "hard-on for terror" seems to swell the enemy ranks. Although, with the world economic crisis, we may have missed our window for negotiating with the countries where terrorists train to diplomatically castrate their effectiveness.

 

EDIT: Sorry, I missed an obvious #4.

4. People would be afraid if we did not do it. (This may even be where we differ and we may not even be at odds. You are saying fear is why we are doing it, and I've been taking that to mean you think we are afraid now. I am saying we are not afraid now but would be if we didn't keep fighting terror. I think maybe we are looking at different sides of the same coin.)

I think the right leader could explain to the public that the strategies we've been using are obviously ineffective and are only making matters worse. But I think the leadership we have (including all of those waiting to take over) are more motivated to keep the economic and political opportunities the War on Terror represent to ever want to do something truly effective to stop it. And the public has been so brainwashed into thinking we need a cannon to kill fleas that any attempt to use our brains instead of our brawn is seen as a sign of weakness.

 

Yes it would keep me from building it in the first place (same reason I don't buy lottery tickets), and I wouldn't keep building it.

 

But it is too late now. Everyone was afraid when we built it. If the dog/terrorist is still out there I may as well leave the wall up and keep maintaining it. If someone in Congress could quietly cut upgrades but kept the wall in place I don't think there would be many complaints.

But the wall in place is costing us a ton of money to maintain. It's effective in keeping the dog out, but this dog is now indirectly taking food off our family's plates, it's hurting our kid's education to keep maintaining the wall that keeps it out. The War on Terror is helping to do what the wealthiest have wanted all along, to cut public budgets, divert tax revenues to themselves and their businesses and get rid of social spending that they see no benefits from.

 

Yes. I agree but why have we been so fearful? Every year some 65,000 Americans die because they got into their car, but the public has been terrorized by the death of a mere 3,000 in New York. Why do many more veterans kill themselves than have been killed by the enemy? Why are seemingly normal men going berserk and setting out to kill as many people as possible? This is not the America of WWI and WWII. It would seem that the level of stress has risen. That may explain why such problems now plague us.

Because we're being exploited. Stressed people make stupid, expensive mistakes in the name of relieving that stress.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.