Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Smoke Containment

Seems like everyone's got their knickers in a knot over the 9/11 commission hearings, Richard Clarke, spin, reverse spin, and the talking heads who are preaching to their own sectarian choirs. Today's hearings culminate a process that is increasingly looking like it's going to turn out to be more of a partisan snipefest than an actual examination of the root causes and the missed opportunities leading up to September 11, 2001.

Liberals are expecting the 9/11 commission report to eviscerate the Bush administration for lack of action in the early days of the junta. Neocons are expecting the same report to exonerate Bush and hang Slick Willie by his nutsac. When this report finally hits the street, both groups will be satisfied - but we'll be no closer to the root cause of 9/11, and no closer to preventing another one.

Root causes. That's what this commission should be all about, but it's not. You need to keep this in perspective when watching the hearings, reading any present or future reports, or listening to the spin machines. I can tell you right now, without fear of any contradiction whatsoever, that the commission will not get to the root cause of the event. The commissioners are not (to the best of my knowledge) tasked with examining the historical context of the event precursors, as such, they're not asking two of the most fundamental questions:
  • Extremely Simplistic Supposition: an inherent hatred of the U.S. and its "allies" is the wellspring of al-Qaeda and similar terrorist organizations. What fuels this hatred toward Western interests?
  • What can be done (long and short term) to address the causes of this hatred?

In medical terminology, any other course of treatment only addresses a short term stabilizing of the patient, and perhaps the presentation of other facets of the disease. Setting up more security screening devices in airports, checking more container ship cargo, getting more humint on the ground, and occasionally bombing the shit out of Middle East sandcastles does not cure the disease. As things stand right now, we'll never cure the disease, because the regimen of treatment would be viewed by the neocon movement as "appeasing the disease".

What the commission is tasked with recommending might be better summarized by "tell us how to contain smoke". When viewed through this lens, the end result of 9/11 commission findings will not be satisfactory to any political spin machine, and ultimately, will not prevent jihadists from trying and trying and trying and trying again. They might fail 100 "next times" over the next 20 years. But it only takes one success.

So, how do you stop them from trying to hurt us? We've learned that bombing the shit of out them or shooting them in their tracks doesn't help. Killing their leadership won't help (see my "Amway" entry from the other day). Trying to find a throat on which to plant a jackboot is proving to be a futile exercise.

How can anyone expect such an important commission to issue recommendations, based on the real causes of 9/11, to prevent similar future occurrences when the commissioners haven't addressed the cause of the problem to begin with? What do we, as a country, really end up with?

Another missed opportunity.