On Christmas day a young Nigerian man attempted to blow up an airliner. The alleged terrorist, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, failed to properly detonate the bomb which was in his underwear.
Following the attempt it was discovered that the man’s father, a Nigerian banker, had alerted authorities back in November that his son was likely to become a danger, and as a result, he was put on a watch list along with hundreds of thousands of other people. Regardless of that, he was allowed to board in Amersterdam.
Some conservatives made much of this and made the claim that "Obama can’t protect Americans."
To his credit, Obama didn’t accept responsibility, but like a good leader, blamed it on some minimum wage lackey far down the food chain.
He shouldn’t have done even that.
Look up the term "terrorism". I’ll save you the time; an exhaustive search for a definition of "terrorism" will turn up dozens or even hundreds of definitions.
In practice, here’s the definition that works: an act of violence or disruption by an antagonist who typically focuses on people and the facilities of every day life. It is the warfare of those who can’t afford armies. A car bomb and a bomb from a B-52 differ in that the car bomb is not associated with a formal (legal) military activity.
For the U.S., non-domestic terrorism is focused on aircraft, but train stations, bus stations and the like have been popular around the world, and such gathering places have been popular for insurrectionists and resistance fighters far back in history. In fact, the actions of terrorism and insurrection predate the city state, and it was only the creation of the idea of central government that turned those activities into "terrorism". Not just civilian combatants are necessary for terrorism; the state is also necessary.
The whole point of terrorism is that it strikes every day life. There is virtually no way to prevent terrorism, the British affirmed that. The institutions and facilities that make modern life possible are fragile; the force needed to disrupt them is reasonably small.
Why not demand that Obama protect Americans? It isn’t realistic, and forcing him to attempt such a fool’s errand can only result in more "George Bush style" attacks on liberty. In the home of the brave we understand it is our bravery, and not the president, that makes this the land of the free.
Example? The Dutch, as a result of this event, have begun doing full body millimeter wave scans of all passengers going to the U.S. It will be a real boon to internet panty voyeurs, but probably won’t keep America safe, and once again, we’ve revealed to the world by this special treatment that we are neither brave, nor free.
Given that most of us will die from our diet, and practically no one from terrorism, shouldn’t we be demanding that Obama promise to protect us from Krispy Krème?
The Prospect doesn’t condone terrorism of any kind, either the kind with the car bomb, or the kind with the B-52, and we’re confident that one kind of terrorism will never end the other, only perpetuate it.