On War #115
By William S. Lind
About a year ago, I had lunch with someone who then held a relatively high position in America’s homeland security forces. During our conversation, I casually referred to “somebody setting off a suitcase nuke in an American city.” He replied, “That will happen.”
I therefore found striking the headline in this Sunday’s Washington Post: “U.S. Sees Drop in Terrorist Threats.” The first paragraph of the story went on to say,
What is going on here? Are we really safer, or is Washington living in a fool’s paradise?
Three factors seem to have led to this new confidence in our homeland security. The first is real, the other two are delusions. The real factor is that our security forces may have gotten over the Chicken Little Syndrome, where any indicator sent them squawking in panic. As the Post story reports,
This change is for the better. The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) color-coded warnings had become a national joke.
Less good is the second factor: our Washington-based intelligence services are forgetting the threat of the “unknown unknown,” terrorists who understand how our intel system works and know how to evade it. The Post reports that people outside Washington see this danger:
This concern is valid. It would not be difficult for our enemies to game our sometimes less-than-sophisticated intelligence process and thus learn how to spoof or bypass it.
The third factor is an even greater worry: Americans seem incapable of grasping our enemies’ concept of time. We are an impatient people; they are not. We want results fast; they please Allah by simply carrying on the struggle, leaving results in his hands. To Americans, “oldies” are ten years old; Osama bin Laden muses about the loss of Spain in the 15th century.
In his new book, The Fourth Power, which argues that America today has no grand strategy and needs one, former Senator Gary Hart hits this nail on the head:
Patient indeed, as you can be when you have, literally, all the time in the world.
It could be years before a suitcase nuke goes off in an American city. It may be several decades before America gets hits with a genetically engineered plague that kills millions or tens of millions of Americans. But so long as we continue pursuing an offensive grand strategy, the goal of which is world domination, it is only a question of when, not whether, such events will happen. The paradise of fools turns into the purgatory of fools’ successors.
William S. Lind, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation
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The Free Congress Foundation, is a 28-year-old Washington, DC-based conservative educational foundation (think tank) that teaches people how to be effective in the political process, advocates judicial reform, promotes cultural conservatism, and works against the government encroachment of individual liberties.