An Orange Christmas

James Lileks has another great piece on Christmas under the shadow of an orange alert. The thought of the Mall of America being nearly empty this near to Christmas is hard to believe – it looks like people are taking the alert to heart.

I’m more sanguine about this situation. Terrorists love easy targets, and the US is no longer an easy target. Our intelligence on this latest attack attempt was so detailed we knew the flight numbers of the planes that were to have been used. The chances of the terrorists getting through the dense layer of security domestically seems slim. The plan was to use foreign planes taking off from less secure locations, but even then the plan was breached before it could be implemented.

In other words, I think we dodged this bullet. I could be wrong, but the fact that we’re all more accutely aware of terrorism than we were on September 10th is in itself our best defense. Moreover, we’re not slouching on offense either. If bin Laden is alive, he’s on the run and is one slip away from facing the wrong end of a Hellfire missile. He will be found, wherever he is. Time is not on his side, it’s on ours.

Even if al-Qaeda does pull something, bin Laden has learned the wrong lessons. Bin Laden assumed that a few American dead would cause us to tuck our tails between our legs as we did in Somalia. Bin Laden believed his own line about being a decadent culture unwilling to meet the determination of his shahids to kill us with greater force. Instead, he’s made the same mistake that Hitler and Hirohito made a half century before – instead of destroying our will, he’s awoken the sleeping dragon of American resolve. He’s now a hunted man, who will continue to be hunted until the day he either is killed or ends up a broken man in a spiderhole being examined by US troops.

Should al-Qaeda pull off another attack, the results will be catastrophic. We haven’t truly mobilized for war yet. Our military is stretched, but another attack would bring yet another surge in recruitment like the one that occurred after September 11. To borrow a phrase from another great American military man, John Paul Jones – we have not yet begun to fight.

The brutal regime of Saddam Hussein is gone. Libya is unilaterally disarming. Israel remains unbowed. They are losing this war.

If that isn’t something to be thankful for, I don’t know what is.

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