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Why not? Redux

Blogger Soccer Dad -- if that's his real name -- cites Charles Krauthammer in attempting to answer the question I posed about why Al Qaeda didn't follow up on 9/11. Krauthammer -- who was wondering the same thing I was -- proposes two theories to explain it:

  • Our success in weakening Al Qaeda
  • A desire to avoid anticlimax
Neither theory is particularly convincing to me, though each may have some truth to it. The first theory might explain why there have been no attacks recently, but it doesn't explain why there weren't any in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, before we had a chance to degrade their capabilities. And anticlimax? Come on. Yes, Al Qaeda likes to go for the dramatic, but a truck bombing of a major New York landmark could have been pretty darn dramatic, no?

Another theory pointed to by Soccer Dad is Lee Harris's theory that the attacks weren't truly aimed at the United States at all, but at the "Arab street." The goal was to impress them -- which was accomplished -- rather than us, so there was no need to follow up. This reminds me that I actually read an intriguing essay by Harris a year or so, entitled Al Qaeda's Fantasy Ideology, which fleshes this out.

Soccer Dad does remind me, though, that Richard Reid (i.e., the Shoe Bomber) attempted to blow up a plane in the months after 9/11. He was stopped, of course; we shouldn't ignore the possibility that Al Qaeda has made other follow-up attempts that have just failed for one reason or another.

Still, I think the ultimate lesson here is that we should be grateful that I'm not the one running Al Qaeda. If I were, there would have been many more attacks.


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Comments (1)

My first though was, "maybe we are stopping them." I agree, there isno reason follow ups couldn't happen. We have reporters sneaking stuff on, I can get some gasoline and manure now and park in front of any number of buildings, etc.

But I also know we stoped at least some. All of them I'd be leery of, but certainly an airplane here, a bombing there. Maybe our intelligence is working (shock!) for things like that.

Obviously it is the sort of thing you don't brag about. "yeah we stoppe it because we have spies" (spy head shows up on doorstep the next day). I really think this is one thing that will appear in 20 years far more clearly.


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