Tuesday, July 26, 2005

On eating and having cake

I've been over at Belmont Club, one of my favorite strategy/foreign affairs blogs, and Wretchard, its erudite and almost anonymous (he just revealed his Secret Identity a few weeks ago) author, had interesting things to say about the presence or absence of a global terror network. It appears that in January 2005, the BBC ran a series called The Power of Nightmares. (I'd give you the link, but I'd rather you followed the Belmont Club "presence or absence" link in the previous sentence, which will point you to the BBC if you want to go there. Reason: Wretchard is infinitely smarter than the Beeb and it's in the comments to his blog that my point resides.) The premise: that there is no global terror network, but that the illusion of one, created or at least used by politicians to cement their positions, scares us just as much as a real one would. The problem: the London bombings, which are increasingly acknowledged to be linked to al Qaeda (not least because people claiming responsibility for the first set of bombings stated that they are a branch of al Qaeda).

There's been a lot of talk from some quarters, including the Kerry camp in the runup to the November 2004 elections, that if Bush had "kept his eye on the ball" (as if that was the problem) and captured bin Laden rather than getting "distracted" by Iraq, we wouldn't now be in the mess those quarters claim we're in. (Side note: this view of how to capture bin Laden reminds me a lot of an old joke about how to perform a do-it-yourself kidney transplant: "First, remove the diseased kidney..." I'm no doubt grossly misstating it, but the point the joke and I are trying to make is that simply glossing over the so-difficult-it-could-be-considered-miraculous-if-successful does not constitute a complete instruction. Thusly: "All Bush had to do was keep his eye on the ball and he would have captured bin Laden.") Anyway. The implication, sometimes the bald statement, was that capturing bin Laden would bring an end to Islamist terror against the West. If that were the case, my goodness, sounds like a global terror network to me...

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