Sunday, October 17, 2004

How big a threat is terrorism?

The Observer's William Pfaff has an Op-Ed piece discussing how Islamic fundamentalist's goals are a pipe dream.

But he also lays out some ugly truths for Americans:

Osama bin Laden himself has gone from being the patron or financier of the Taliban movement to a fugitive existence in Waziristan. His followers may blow up Americans in the Green Zone of Baghdad. They can reinforce an Iraqi nationalism that will eventually force the US and its allies out of that country, to their humiliation.

But as Gilles Kepel, the French authority on Islamic society, has already said, the Islamist movement is moribund in moral terms, although its military and political energy is not yet exhausted. There is no way in which it seriously threatens the Western industrial nations, other than through sporadic acts of terrorism. And that is the sort of thing Britain endured for many years from the IRA, Italy and Germany during the 1970s and 1980s from their Red Brigades, and Spain from Basque separatists. It is unpleasant, but it is not serious. (This is the lesson the American people refuse to understand.) (emphasis added)

I think he is correct that no matter when we leave Iraq, it will not be as victors. It will go down with Vietnam and Afghanistan in the annals of foolish imperialism and failed states.

But America does need to put terrorism in perspective. September 11th didn't change the world, it merely awakened America to some unfortunate truths about the world.

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