Monday, September 04, 2006

Are we less safe than on or before September 11, 2001?

I see a quote by U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in an article in the NY Times by Robin Toner and Kate Zernike entitled "G.O.P. Seen to Be in Peril of Losing House" in which he suggests that we are not safer from terrorism:

People are not happy with how George Bush conducted the war in Iraq, and they know we’re not safer.

This is a popular conception, or what I would call a myth, as to how to quantify or qualify our "safety" relative to terrorism.

First, I never saw any direct connection between Iraq and "global terrorism" or the events of September 11, 2001 in particular.

Second, I have never seen any connection between what has transpired in Iraq since 2003 and our "safety" here in America.

When discussing terrorism as it relates to to Americans here in America or in Asia or South America or Africa or Europe, Iraq simply is not a key driver. Iraq does affect security in the Middle East and does certainly affect the lives of U.S. forces in the area, but security in the Middle East was always problematic even before 2003.

Put simply, the situation in Iraq is a red herring with respect to the safety of Americans with respect to acts of terrorism.

I dispute the assertion that we are less safe than since September 11, 2001. Overall, I would say that we are somewhat safer since that day, if for no other reason than that security personnel are somewhat more alert and diligent.

Terrorism directly at the U.S. or "American interests" was nothing new on September 11, 2001. The USS Cole had been attacked, two embassies had been bombed, the World Trade Center had been bombed, U.S. marines had been attacked in Lebanon, U.S. military personnel had been attacked in Saudi Arabia, a major plot to attack New York City bridges and tunnels had been foiled, etc. All of this before September 11, 2001.

If not for the idiotic bureaucratic snafu of the FAA allowing airline cockpit doors to be unarmored and opened during flight, the attacks of September 11, 2001 would not have happened at all. But of course bureaucrats are bureaucrats and the attacks did happen.

How many incidents of terrorism have we had here in America since September 11, 2001? Not much to speak of. How people can conclude that such a record indicates that we are not safer and that somehow we are less safe makes no sense, to me.

But maybe we are simply facing a semantic distinction here: how safe do people feel verus the actuality of their safety.

It is true that the Bush administration and opportunistic politicians (of both parties) are harping on terrorism as a major, "defining" threat and telling us that we are going to be attacked again, and the media gleefully picks up these messages and promotes them with emotionally manipulative music and graphics and special effects, so that in some sense we shouldn't blame anybody for falling for this blatant manipulation, but I would insist that people as citizens still retain responsibility for sifting through all of that manipulative crap and seeking truth as well as enlightenment.

I'll concede that many people may indeed feel less safe, but that's a far cry from asserting that they are less safe.

Shame on politicans such as Chuck Schumer for seeking to manipulate and politically capitalize on irrational fears. Of course we don't expect better behavior from conservatives, but Liberals are supposed to know better and be better.

I personally do not feel less safe, and having knowledge of what was really happening in the world in the 1990's, I do in fact feel significantly safer than I felt on September 10, 2001.

I cringe at the thought of air travel, not because I worry about terrorist attacks, but simply due to all of the mindless hassles that we have to go through because so many people are harping so insistently that the threat level is still high when the facts show that it is clearly lower.

-- Jack Krupansky


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