Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Threat That Ain't (Part II)

Today's column:

Last week we examined the myth of Pearl Harbor. It was demonstrated that, despite the casualties that resulted from the attack, the United States was wrong in assuming that Japan was a real threat. In this light, we'll now turn to look at 9/11 to see how it too has been cause for overreaction by the American government.

My goal here is to put atrocities into the proper historical context. I readily admit that both Pearl Harbor and the attacks of 9/11 were morally indefensible. Those who died fully deserve the tears which the nation shed on their behalf. Yet context is important, especially in a nation whose grasp of history is, at best, mediocre. For over sixty years, the myth of Pearl Harbor has percolated through American thought until belief in it is all but ubiquitous. If possible we should prevent the further dissemination of falsehood.

History may very well treat Colin Powell better than the Bush administration did. In any event, he grasps the point. In an interview in GQ magazine, Powell asked: "Are there any terrorists in the world who can change the American way of life or our political system? No. Can they knock down a building? Yes. Can they kill somebody? Yes. But can they change us? No. Only we can change ourselves. So what is the great threat we are facing?"

In demonstrating that Islamic terrorists present a threat to our way of life, people always point to 9/11. But a single attack which harmed, in numerical terms, a mere fraction of one percent of the nation's populace can hardly be construed as a threat to the American way of life. This seems callous to say, and perhaps it is, but we ought to remember that we live in a nation that sees 100,000 people murdered annually—and that's before we start tallying the unborn. While there are those who, forgetting—or perhaps simply choosing to ignore—that truth is immutable, insist that 9/11 changed everything, this belies the facts. Americans changed some of their attitudes, and government became ever more intrusive in its quixotic quest to prevent another attack, but our way of life prevailed. We did not cower inside of our duct-taped sarcophaguses; we went out and bought homes, worked our jobs, and generally contributed to the economy like good little Americans.

Bush can credit the Orwellian Patriot Act and “bringing the war to the terrorists” for preventing “another 9/11” but reality paints a different picture. By refusing to abide by his constitutional duty to defend the border, Bush has admitted that the whole War on Terror is a complete farce. If Bush took the threat posed by the terrorists as seriously as his overblown rhetoric implies, he would move to prevent any potential terrorists from occupying the country and attempting another attack. Since the border remains unsecured, it's ridiculous to believe that Bush's not-so-benevolent dictatorship is to be credited with keeping us safe. Occam's razor suggests that the terrorists aren't attacking us because they don't wish to.

Returning to the myth of Pearl Harbor, a solitary act of terror does not always denote a sign of strength; often it is indicative of its absence. The terrorists used planes to strike because a full-scale invasion by a traditional, or even guerrilla army was impractical and would have been ineffective. Instead, the terrorists flew planes into buildings. This unconventional maneuver worked because it struck with genuine surprise.

The threat posed by the terrorists, like that posed by the Japanese navy, is non-existent. Insofar as there is a clear and present danger to the republic, it lies in our porous borders. We'll examine the real threat next week.


troutsky said...

Secure borders? You are normally so rational and yet this one point causes you to lose your faculties. Do you actually picture a gaurded perimiter around the whole ,immense thing? Killer drones and electric surveillance? How about tunnels, air space, sea shores? I guarantee you I can cross willey nilley as much as i want undetected till you are willing to spend trillions.And what would you have accomplished? East Berlin.

A Wiser Man Than I said...

Thanks for the compliment, but I believe I'm being rational here, too. You'll have to stay tuned for next week's column to see if I can get you to reconsider the issue.

In my estimation, based on the little history I've read, massive immigration irrevocably changes the make-up and the culture of the host country. America has problems, to be sure, but we can't allow anyone to waltz over the border. If we grant that privilege, we lose our identity.

A country that cannot shape its own destiny has lost its way. But as I've said, check back next week.