Monday, December 28, 2009

Proving an old point

Updated From Digby at Hullabaloo I learn that Joe "Call Me Mr. President" Lieberman
said on "Fox News Sunday" that the U.S. will have to take an active approach in Yemen after multiple recent terrorist attacks on the U.S. were linked back to the Middle Eastern nation.

The Connecticut senator said that an administration official told him that "Iraq was yesterday's war, Afghanistan is today's war. If we don't act preemptively, Yemen will be tomorrow's war."
"Multiple" attacks in this case means maybe two, the others mentioned, such as the attack on the USS Cole, not really qualifying as "recent." The two would be the November shootings at Fort Hood by Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who killed 13 people, and the attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to set off an explosive on a Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas day. The latter does appear to have been an attempted act of terrorism: US officials are claiming that Abdulmutallab said
that al Qaeda operatives in Yemen supplied him with an explosive device and trained him on how to detonate it.
But the former has largely been regarded as a psych case, not a terrorism case - except, or course, by the wingnuts and people like Joe "Curtis LeMay" Lieberman. No matter, the senator from the great state of Neocon insists that both men might have had some connection to a radical Muslim cleric in Yemen and that's all the proof he needs to start dreaming about bombing runs and invasions.

Which is typical political "Macho Man" blather, but, you know, so what? Grant everything he claims. Let him spin his fantasies. It seems to me that the contentions about Yemen actually serve to point up the uselessness of a military response to such as al-Qaeda.

Those who have called counter-terrorism a "law enforcement issue," with the emphasis on the patient work of investigation and intelligence-gathering, have been called anything and everything from naive to "objectively pro-terrorist."

But how is this better? They're in Afghanistan! Bomb Afghanistan! Now they're in Pakistan! Bomb Pakistan! No, wait, now they're in Yemen. Bomb Yemen!

Then what? No, no, wait again, now they're in Kowabunga with camps at the headwaters of the Wazoo River! Bomb them up the Wazoo!

It's an unending game of Whack-a-Mole with for the most part living, breathing - or, rather, formerly living and breathing - human beings just trying to get on with their lives who make up most of those on the receiving end of mallets made of cruise missiles.

It's stupid and it's pointless.

Oh, and what "old point" does this serve to prove? Well, there's this, which I wrote on October 2, 2001:
Our best weapons are bread and butter, not bombs; our best tactic reconstruction, not retaliation; our best strategy justice, not jingoism.
And more the the point, this from January 5, 2002:
Patient police work of effective investigation and intelligence has done and will do more to oppose terrorism than all our bombing sorties combined.
That still seems true to me and still seems clearly the better way.

Footnote: The patron saint of pant-wetters also said that the administration should not release the 90 Yemenis now held at Gitmo. Whether, it appears, there is any evidence against them or not.

Updated to note that earlier reporting had said, and this post originally said, that Abdulmutallab had tried to set off "a plastic explosive." It has developed that the explosive was a powdered explosive called PETN which he tried to set off by injecting it with a liquid. The phrase "a plastic explosive" has been changed to "an explosive."

Which actually raises a point: The idea was to set off a chemical reaction by combining the liquid with the PETN - but would that have caused an explosion? Such a method seems highly unlikely to produce the extremely rapid release of energy that constitutes an explosion; more likely, the reaction would have been drawn out over a time. (Keeping in mind that in a case like this, one second can be a long time.) That doesn't mean it wasn't dangerous: Even without an explosion, it might have produced a fireball sufficient to damage the plane enough to bring it down. But it's also possible that the only person injured would have been Abdulmutallab himself. It's impossible to say anything for sure - especially without knowing what the liquid was, which I haven't noticed reported - but I can't help but wonder if even if the thing had gone off as planned would the event have gone off as planned.

No comments:

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}} document.write('');