Saturday, June 09, 2007

Another great Fareed article

I've long been a fan of Fareed Zakaria's approach to world events, but I thought that this week's Newsweek cover story was exceptional.

Two quotes in particular, I think, are worth highlighting:

If one day bombs do go off, we must ensure that they cause as little disruption—economic, social, political—as possible. This would deprive the terrorist of his main objective. If we are not terrorized, then in a crucial sense we have defeated terrorism.
I've been railing for a while about the stupidity and futility of our approach to security, particularly at the TSA line at airports. Our approach is reactive and focuses on the symptoms, and in a quest for perfect safety against terrorism has imposed incredible costs for a gain in perceived rather than actual security. Banning liquids on airplanes simply does nothing serious for security - it presumes that the bad guys are not clever enough to think up ways around it, or other ways to attack. (For this reason, I've taken to declaring that I'm traveling with 6-8 pints of blood and asking if I need to drain it into 3oz bottles in a clear plastic bag.)

Such overreactions are precisely what Osama bin Laden has been hoping for. In a videotaped message in 2004, bin Laden explained his strategy with astonishing frankness. He termed it "provoke and bait": "All we have to do is send two mujahedin ... [and] raise a piece of cloth on which is written 'Al Qaeda' in order to make the generals race there, to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses." His point has been well understood by ragtag terror groups across the world. With no apparent communication, collaboration or further guidance from bin Laden, small outfits from Southeast Asia to North Africa to Europe now announce that they are part of Al Qaeda, and so inflate their own importance, bring global attention to their cause and—of course—get America to come racing out to fight them.
More successful manipulation of us by the bad guys. Why can't we recognize that we're being played?

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