Friday, March 12, 2004

The proliferation of motives

My younger sister called yesterday to say "so what happened with those terrorists attacks?"

At first I thought maybe something had happened while I was out running - probably the only point in my day that I'm not with internet, TV, or radio reach. But no, it was just Spain. I don't mean "just" as a belittlement - though realistically, most Americans probably had no idea that Spain has long battled separatists, etc. No, come now, be honest, you don't even know if Irish people - or are the English people? - are still blowing things up in Belfast. Were a truly honest poll possible, I think it would reveal the general non-surprise, don't care attitude here with regards to the rest of the world. After all, though it usually happens between Israelis and Palestinians, people Over There are always being blown up. We're comfy here - we only have to fear the Reall Big Stuff. Falling skyscrapers and whatnot. Our buses don't explode. And no one rides our trains anyway.

At any rate - who did it? ETA, Al Qaeda? And if it's the latter, what does that mean?

Let's ask the experts:

Jim Pinkerton, Newsday columnist and friend of Phoblographer*, had this to say about yesterday's Madrid attacks:

" . . . if Al Qaeda does prove to be the culprit, then it will be hard to argue that Saddam Hussein was responsible for this, too, won't it? And cast further doubt on the Bush argument that Iraq was the most urgent target, huh?

"And it would remind us that the real issue is securing our own homeland, which is mostly wide open, since these attacks make it plain enough that terrorists don't need a state-sponsor, they just need a Few Bad Men. The homeland security budget for the US is about $40 billion, we have spent $200 billion in Iraq so far.

"And so, in addition, we need to be thinking about the proliferation of motives, as well as means. That is, if we keep attacking others, others will find a way, sooner or later, to hit back. Afghanistan was unavoidable, but Iraq, everyone now agrees, was a war of choice. We might wish to cut back on those kinds of war in the future. [emphasis added]

"The Spanish government, of course, is eager to blame the Basque ETA, because to admit that the destruction and carnage were perpetrated by Al Qaeda or some other Islamist group would be to, in effect, admit that Spain's participation in Iraq just cost 200 or so Spaniards their lives, plus the injuries, plus the massive damage to Spain's business economy and tourism.

" . . . But no matter who was responsible, it's a bad augury for the US, and all its public transportation--plus its public everything else--if it is discovered that a finite number of Islamists can do that much damage, once again. All without orders from Saddam."

Phoblographer* concurs.

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