The mystery of homeland
Why have no more attacks occurred?
By JOSEPH AUDIE
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Since the invasion of Iraq some four years ago, the United States and the
new Iraqi government have failed to prevent terrorist attacks against
civilians inside Iraq. The terrorists seem to have the ability to strike where
and when they want, despite the best efforts of the two governments.
In fact, the harder the United States
tries to prevent terrorist attacks, the more terrorist attacks there are. Put
simply, despite trying just about everything artillery barrages,
search-and-destroy missions, armor assaults, city invasions, troop
increases, the use of mercenaries, home invasions, bombing raids, mass
imprisonment, torture, executions, targeted assassinations, intrusive
checkpoints, propaganda and psychological warfare operations, the total
suspension of civil liberties, citywide curfews, and covert intelligence
operations the United States has been unable to stop terrorist
violence in Iraqi. The situation, of course, is similar in Afghanistan and
Israel. Finally, for roughly
Interestingly, all of that stands in sharp contrast to the near-total immunity from terrorist attacks against U.S. civilians that we have enjoyed since 9/11. That is to say, despite a roughly 20-year record of failure at preventing terrorism against Americans, culminating in the attacks of September 11, 2001; a demonstrated inability to prevent terror attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan; and a 60-year record of failure on the part of the Israelis, over the course of the past six years the U.S. government has achieved what it, at least, trumpets as success in preventing terror attacks against American civilians. And whatever the real reason may be, it is the case that virtually no attacks have occurred. If we are to believe Washington's propaganda with respect to its internal-security accomplishments, we face a truly curious asymmetry total failure and total success at solving essentially the same problem.
To resolve the paradox, three explanations immediately spring to mind:
The terrorists have decided to stop targeting American civilians;
2. A primarily law-enforcement-based approach to preventing terror works better than a primarily military-based one;
3. The U.S. government has struck some kind of secret deal with the terrorists, a deal that allows the terrorists to launch attacks in Iraq (and presumably in Afghanistan as well) but not in the United States or even against American civilians outside of Iraq (and presumably Afghanistan).
Of course, other possible explanations exist. I would, however, like to
simply and briefly consider the possibilities above. What follows is more
an exploration of them an exercise in thinking out loud
than an attempt to favor one over the others. In point of fact, I believe the scant evidence that is publicly available prevents us from
drawing any definite conclusions.
The first explanation, that American
civilians have been spared while Iraqis and others have been made to suffer
because of a terrorist decision not to attack American civilians, strikes me
Perhaps they lack the necessary resources or want to focus their efforts in
Iraq. But that, too, strains credulity, especially when considered against the
backdrop of the dreadful Virginia Tech massacre. In that instance, an
apparently untrained student, armed only with handguns, was able to murder
32 people in a matter of minutes. Imagine the carnage a team of, say, three
trained terrorists with automatic weapons could produce in a mall on a
crowded Saturday, without seriously interfering with terrorist operations in
Iraq and elsewhere. Perhaps, for reasons unknown, the terrorists have
decided to stop targeting American civilians. However unlikely, we cannot
rule out that possibility absent more evidence.
The second possible explanation, that law enforcement has succeeded where
the military has failed, should be the most exciting to friends of liberty.
This counterintuitive possibility would provide empirical evidence that we
need not trade freedom for security, that open societies and the rule of law
can succeed where closed societies and tyranny fail. Unfortunately, I am not
aware of any evidence that would allow us to test this possibility. Moreover,
this explanation is complicated by the fact that the government has adopted
military-style and despotic measures here at home. That tyranny is failing
to curb terror violence in Mesopotamia seems clear; that what remains of
American liberty is succeeding here at home remains, to the best of my
The third and final possibility, that a deal between the terrorists and the U.S. government explains the disparity in terrorist violence, while seemingly absurd, is a viable possibility when considered against the backdrop of history. Indeed, there can be no doubt that in the past the U.S. government, or at least elements within the government, have cut deals with some of the very terrorist organizations that Washington is ostensibly fighting against at present. From Afghanistan to the Balkans and elsewhere, elements within our own government have worked with known terrorists to achieve various strategic and tactical ends. Despite that suggestive history, I am aware of no hard evidence directly implicating Washington in such a nefarious deal in the present context.
The question has been posed: Why have we seen so few successful terrorist attacks against American civilians, and in particular against the American homeland, over the past several years, yet so much terrorist violence in Iraq and Afghanistan over roughly the same period of time? Why has there been no terrorist attack on American soil since September 11 but countless such attacks on Iraqi and Afghani soil? Three possible explanations were offered and briefly analyzed in response to this query: (1) that the terrorists have decided on their own to stop attacking us; (2) that law enforcement works; or (3) that a secret deal between our government and the terrorists was reached to halt attacks against American civilians. Some combination of the three may provide the answer; alternatively, a fourth explanation that we have not considered might prove to be the correct one. Either way, an important question has been raised, however imperfectly, and three possible explanations considered. I hope that future research will shed light on the present darkness.
April 28, 2007
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