Aug. 20, 2003Common sense could prevent next 9/11
The arrest of three men charged with attempting to sell up to 50 shoulder-mounted missiles last week provides a reminder that it‘s not a matter of “if“ there will be another major terrorist attack, but “when.“
A British suspect was arrested in Newark, New Jersey after agreeing to sell a Russian SA-18 Igla missile to an undercover agent from the FBI who was posing as a Muslim extremist. The deal was contingent upon the missile‘s ability to shoot down a commercial airliner.
According to a news report at MSNBC.com, “Hundreds and perhaps thousands of shoulder-fired missiles -- heat-seeking rockets that can hit low-flying aircraft within three miles -- are said to be available on the worldwide arms market. Older missile launchers can be bought for as little as several thousand dollars.“
With that kind of firepower floating around, it‘s not hard to imagine another 9/11 scenario in which a dozen planes would be shot down at airports around the world on some doomsday morning in the near future. Perhaps even at small, obscure airports which are little watched, such as in Traverse City or Pellston.
It‘s not unlikely. Some 900 air travelers have died in shoulder-mounted missile attacks on 42 civil aircraft since the 1970s, according to writer Paul J. Caffera of Salon.com. Caffera‘s well-researched article notes that there is virtually no defense against these weapons, which are in the hands of 27 terrorist groups worldwide. Many came from the U.S. itself: we supplied Afghan rebels with 900 Stinger missiles in their war with the Russians in the 1980s, some of which are still floating around for sale.
What happens if people are suddenly terrified to fly, just as they were afraid to open their mail during the anthrax scare or to visit Washington, D.C., during the sniper attacks? Western civilization will be one step closer to the Dark Ages, right where the religious fanatics of al-Qaida want to drag the world.
Our government is attempting military and political fixes to break al-Qaida, but even a lazy review of the history of terrorism reveals that these “solutions“ based on punishment and retribution don‘t work. They just spread a sense of rage to the next generation.
Consider that Russia can‘t even manage Chechnya, a province smaller than the state of Michigan. According to a U.S. State Department advisory, “Acts of terrorism, including bombings and hostage taking, have occurred in Russian government buildings, hotels, tourist sites, markets, residential complexes and on public transportation. In October 2002, terrorists seized a Moscow theater and held its audience captive for several days before Russian Special Forces stormed it.“ Most recently, the Chechens bombed a Russian rock concert and another theater event.
Then too, the British couldn‘t manage to contain 200 years of terrorism in their next door neighbor of Ireland. Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, downtown London was plagued with car bombings which killed hundreds of people.
Those two examples are of major powers dealing with tiny neighbors. Given that, how are we going to handle one billion angry Muslims spread not only all over the world, but in our own cities? Religious fanatics have 1,000-year memories that aren‘t going to vanish with the next bombing raid.
Common sense would provide the best solution for handling terrorists, no different than if you were walking through gang territory in the Bronx on a hot August night. Just get the heck out of their neighborhood.
Common sense would tell you that we need to kick our oil addiction and get out of the Middle East. Common sense would dictate a crash program in alternative energy sources: windpower, geothermal, ocean tides, microwave energy from the sun, photovoltaics, hydrogen cars -- anything to get away from the oil that fuels the hatred of fanatics in the Mideast.
Considering that Europe is roasting in its hottest summer in recorded history, one would think that the whole world would be mobilizing at a level on par with World War II to end both the threat of global warming as well as terrorism rooted in Mideast oil.
Unfortunately, we dont have a common sense administration in power. Weve got a shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later president whose administration is packed with former oil company executives. How many more 9/11s will America have to suffer before we recognize that alternative energy isnt just one way out of our problems with terrorists? Its our only way.