Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Know Your Enemy
Greg Djerejian of The Belgravia Dispacth has a long post identifying the source of the real threat we face with regard to terrorism. In a nutshell, he poses the following the question:
...Put differently, how did the attack on downtown Manhattan lead us to become involved in ostensibly decades long nation building efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and perhaps to come, a bombing campaign that would likely lead to a full-blown conflict with the Islamic Republic of Iran?
In my view, the greatest threat we face in the post 9/11 era are radicalized Islamists of mostly lower to middle class background who have grown up or emigrated to cities like Madrid, London, Paris, Hamburg, Milan... The radical Islamists who threaten us the most are those who have become technologically sophisticated, who perhaps speak our language, who can more easily appear ‘Westernized’, and meantime have become highly alienated by the West, basically the Mohammed Atta type. Which is to say, not rural peasants in the environs of Kandahar or impoverished Shi'a slum-dwellers south of Baghdad...
Greg's point is on the money, but for one thing: Looks like we'll have to add Copenhagen to the list. Because the Danish police have just arrested a cell of eight suspected bomb plotters who all match Greg's description to a tee. And initial reports suggest that at least several of them have direct links to al-Qaeda's top leadership.
Americans have a tendency to minimize the target value of "minor" countries like Denmark, while getting unnerved by every Moe, Curly and Larry nabbed by the FBI and DHS stateside. But these arrests confirm the pattern of the London and Madrid bombings, as well as recent intelligence reports that suggest that Islamic terrorists are increasingly turning their sights on Western Europe as a second "front".
But while it's important to take these threats seriously, it's also important not to lose sight of the kinds of distinctions that Greg makes. This kind of analysis seems like an opportunity for Democrats to turn their perceived weakness on National Security into a strength. Because there's really no way we can defeat our enemy if we can't even identify him.