If the war on terror was a 15 round fight, I would say that we are probably still waiting for the bell that starts the first round. The war has not been won, and this is no time for the public to let its' guard down. The people that want us dead are still very much in business and active, yet very patient. This creates a feeling of complacency that causes us to forget that this danger is still out there. To get an idea of the truth in this, we only have to look at one actual event and one potential event of the past days.
Mubai, India has had a vicious few days where terrorists, apparently targeting western tourists, businessmen and a Jewish organization held hostages with what apparently was an incredible arsenal of weapons, killed hostages and with most of the perpetrators dying in the process. The fact that they were going to die was probably part of the plan going in, and may have actually been a desired result. The exact make-up and origin of the terrorists is not exactly known yet, but this type of attack is possible anywhere. Speculation is that it was brought on by a dispute over control of Kashmir and carried out by Muslim militants, but hatred is hatred and a pre-disposition to violence is prevalent among many groups around the world.
This makes two things obvious, at least to me:
- The enemy that wants us dead is still out there and active.
- It is an enemy, unlike in conventional "wars", who feel that their own death is a good thing, as death will take them to a better place. This is a much different enemy than in conventional warfare, where combatants on both sides want victory, but also desperately want survival.
New York City on Wednesday, November 26th, faced what was termed a non-specific, but credible threat that the New York City subway system and Long Island railroad could be targets of a Madrid style bombing. This bombing in Madrid in March 2004 targeted four commuter trains and killed 191 and injured over 1,700 innocent people in a well coordinated attack. In order for the authorities in New York to come out with the warning, particularly considering it was Thanksgiving eve and the importance of tourism at this point in the cycle, you would have to imagine that the source and tone of the information was very credible.
What this says to me is that we as Americans need to resist the temptation for the "out of sight, out of mind" behavior and thinking that we are typically disposed to. We need to move away from OUR mindset in which things needed to be done yesterday, and understand that for the people that wish to do us harm, time and patience are part of the arsenal. A large part. The fact that we have not had a domestic attack since 9/11 is due to many factors, chief among them are the efforts of the government to step up covert and overt activities to thwart them. Unfortunately another could be due to patience.
It would have to be assumed therefore, that we are not out of the woods. This fight is going at least 15 rounds, and we are closer to the opening bell than to any decision.