Saturday, August 26, 2006

Safer Now

Recently there has been a spate of articles, books, and commentaries about the so-called war on terror. Apparently we are losing and just don’t know it. These commentators miss the point; it is a world wide war on terror. As usual the US media is focused almost exclusively on the United States, Iraq, and Afghanistan it’s no wonder that most Americans knowledge of the rest of the world is pitifully limited. The press mantra is “Are we safer five years later?”

The fact that there have been no successful terror attacks in the USA is indeed remarkable, almost unbelievable. There have been terror attacks elsewhere since the destruction of the World Trade Center Complex; an accomplishment in itself that is probably worth five years of reflection. Americans are a complacent lot worrying only about the banal and being hardly aware of their on country let alone the rest of the globe.

Recent studies have produced results about historical and geographical knowledge that are amazing if true. Something like 60% of high school graduates can’t locate on maps of the world countries they hear about on the news every day. They don’t seem to be hearing the message. Most colleges in the US don’t require a basic grounding in US or World History. These failures make the US an easy target and the rest of the West to the extent they emulate the US education system.

The premise that the intelligence agencies of the US are in turmoil is probably true. Undoubtedly there are turf wars within the agencies as old enemies are displaced and new ones taken on board. Cultural and political differences are preventing the increase of competence needed to infiltrate the enemy’s camp. It is unlikely that the Irish Catholic and Italian “wise-guys” of the FBI that defeated the IRA and the Mafia will be successful against the various jihadists. The CIA and FBI are having a difficult time coming to grips with the need to recruit Arabic Muslims and not just Arabic speaking agents. They must hire infiltrators from the terror breeding grounds in order to successfully defend the civilization.

This course of action presents its own dangers of course, but the risk must be run. It is difficult to defeat an enemy about whom you know almost nothing except his willingness to die to achieve his goal.

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