Thursday, March 6, 2008

Bomb Goes Off in New York... and Nobody Blinks

I am not actually a big fan of how we are running the current War on Terror, particularly at home. We spend too much, scare too much, and infringe on rights too much. All that aside, the national security aspect of it all has some interesting quirks. Given yesterday's bombing, it seems I got some of these quirks wrong.

I have been terrified at the prospect of another terror attack in the United States since 9/11, mostly because I have been worried that the citizens of the United States would lose their better judgments and give in to an excursion into another country or into their civil liberties. History teaches us this happens all the time.

Yesterday's bomb attack was small, and nobody got hurt, but it is still significant. The United States populous and media have not only failed to freak out, but have mostly failed to bat an eye. The attack fell far below Democratic primary discussion in hits on Google News.

Does that mean the US will not snap at a larger attack? No. We have been blindingly fortunate that there have been no terror attacks since 9/11-- this is in large part due to the reorganization and re-focusing of the United States Intelligence Community. But no wall is perfect, and at some point, someone will get hurt by a bomb; maybe even one planted by an Islamic militant.

But ultimately, if the United States' citizenry can keep its head during these small attacks, then the ability to successfully wage psychological warfare against the population drops. With less fear--less terror--felt in the United States population, the damage done by sporadic bombs diminishes significantly.

There really is no way to keep a free society and prevent all terror attacks at the same time. Bomb-making is a surprisingly simple process, and even one or two determined fanatics could pull it off, given a few days and a few hundred dollars. The trick is not to stop these dead, but to minimize them, and stay calm when they happen. This recent bombing has surprised and impressed me; I think the people of the United States may in fact be capable of doing just that.

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