An excerpt from “British Court Convicts Three in Plot to Blow Up Airliners“, New York Times, 7 September 2009:
After two trials and the largest counterterrorist investigation in Britain’s history, three men were found guilty in a London court on Monday of a plot to bomb at least seven trans-Atlantic airliners on a single day with liquid explosives smuggled aboard in soft-drink bottles and detonated by devices powered with AA batteries.
… The idea, intelligence officials said, was to show the world that the security measures adopted after the Sept. 11 attacks were insufficient to foil the kind of low-technology, “asymmetric” attacks favored by Islamic extremists in their war with the West — using box-cutters in the 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, and soft-drink bottles filled with a commercially available bleach in the 2006 plot. Evidence at the London trial showed that several of the plotters, like those on Sept. 11, had traveled from their homes in the London area to Pakistan and Afghanistan for indoctrination and training by extremist groups linked to Al Qaeda.
The simple conclusion from this is that these terrorists were wrong. “The security measures adopted after the Sept. 11 attacks were” sufficient to foil this plan. Note no mention of torture, nor of the war. Just routine (if intense) police and intelligence work caught and convicted them.
Of course, larger conclusions can be drawn by those with more vivid imaginations. As in this comment, from “Af/Pak Still Matters“, Joshua Foust, posted at Registan (“All Central Asia, all the time”), 7 September 2009:
“You can argue whether or not Afghanistan and Pakistan matter in the grand scheme of things, but they remain important even now.”
Let’s examine the logic behind this. We must use induction, since Foust does not explain. So this might not be his supporting logic.
- Assuming this one sentence accurately describes the evidence (which is quite a leap of faith), AND
- assuming that the training in Pakistan and Afghanistan was essential (substantially more so than the small arms training the 9-11 terrorists received in Afghanistan), AND
- assuming that the training could not have been easily done elsewhere (e.g., a wilderness area in Canada, Mexico, or USA)
THEREFORE we can conclude… what?
- Perhaps that the “West” must occupy both Pakistan and Afghanistan — plus any similar areas in which “groups linked to al Qaeda” can operate.
Then we will be safe.
- Except for “groups linked to al Qaeda” operating in the EU or perhaps even the US, cloaked by our civil rights and limited internal surveillance.
- But since by then our military will have occupied so much of the world, why not occupy ourselves as well?
Then we will be really safe. At a high cost, of course.
The war has reached an inflection point, as its weak intellectual foundation has been exposed. Now is the time to speak up. Acting together we can influence government policy. Success here can lead to larger ones in the future.
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For more information about this topic
To see all posts about our new wars:
Some posts about the war in Afghanistan:
- Why are we are fighting in Afghanistan?, 9 April 2008 — A debate with Joshua Foust.
- Stratfor: “The Strategic Debate Over Afghanistan”, 13 May 2009
- Real experts review a presentation about the War (look here, if you’re looking for well-written analysis!), 21 June 2009
- The Big Lie at work in Afghanistan – an open discussion, 23 June 2009
- “War without end”, a great article by George Wilson, 27 June 2009
- “Strategic Calculus and the Afghan War” by George Friedman of Stratfor, 17 July 2009
- Powerful insights about our war in Afghanistan, part 1, 18 July 2009
- We are warned about Afghanistan, but choose not to listen (part 2), 19 July 2009
- Powerful insights about our war in Afghanistan, part 3, 20 July 2009