While Al-Qaeda probably does not pose an existential threat to our freedom like Communism did, I think that overereacting to it would be far batter then under-reacting.4Well now, that certainly makes sense...unless, of course, the terrorists' objective is to provoke overreaction. Which is only the case approximately always.
That's the whole point of terrorism: to provoke the enemy into doing self-destructive acts. It's asymmetrical warfare; they don't have the military strength to take on the enemy directly, so they have to use the enemy's strengths against it. In Algeria, say, bombs in cafes provoked a brutal military reaction that shocked the western nations and mobilized global support for independence5. In the case of al Qaeda, the bizarrely misdirected overreaction by the US is (almost) exactly what bin Laden had in mind:
Documents captured after 9/11 showed that bin Laden hoped to provoke the United States into an invasion and occupation that would entail all the complications that have arisen in Iraq. His only error was to think that the place where Americans would get stuck would be Afghanistan.I've written about this before. It's not rocket science; it's a really, really obvious point--so obvious that I'm almost embarrassed to have to make it. I said before that "anyone who fails to understand it...has nothing to contribute to the discussion." A year and some later, I would amend that: anyone who fails to understand it is too stupid to live.
Bin Laden also hoped that such an entrapment would drain the United States financially. Many al-Qaeda documents refer to the importance of sapping American economic strength as a step toward reducing America’s ability to throw its weight around in the Middle East.
[Hat tip: TS at Instaputz.]
1Really--once a month, just like clockwork.
22,825 words. Much, much shorter Ron Silver: "We have nothing to fear but not enough fear itself."
3As well as about a dozen "you're so brave and smart Ron, you should be President or Secretary of Defense or King of the World, and I want to have your children" comments. I'm not saying they aren't all genuine (*cough*sprezzatura*cough*), or that Ron Silver has a narcissistic personality disorder (which goes without saying); I'm just saying...well, I guess I'm not saying anything. Never mind.
4My snarky response: "That's how Austria-Hungary felt about Bosnian terrorism."
5Yes, I'm over-simplifying the plot a bit.