The Enemy is Everywhere, and Nowhere


The UK Guardian reports on the British Home Office official assessment of the London bombings last July. The conclusion?

the attack was planned on a shoestring budget from information on the internet…there was no 'fifth-bomber' and no direct support from al-Qaeda, although two of the bombers had visited Pakistan.
Far from being the work of an international terror network, as originally suspected, the attack was carried out by four men who had scoured terror sites on the internet. Their knapsack bombs cost only a few hundred pounds.

This raises the question that has bothered me ever since a few months after 9/11: if we are so surrounded by sinister enemies of Western freedoms, with borders so porous and intelligence and policing so hobbled, why don't things like this happen monthly, weekly, or daily here? Pop-terror maven David Frum once told me that it was because of the blockbuster mentality–after 9/11, nothing less spectacular would seem to do our enemies' any good. Given my own understanding of Americans, I have no doubt an assault of a thousand smaller cuts would be equally if not more effective in reminding us we are in a jihad–if in fact we are, in any operationally meaningful sense the average American should care about.

I'm well aware that a post like this could seem incredibly foolish within minutes of my typing it if events go a certain way. But is there ever a point where enough time goes by after 9/11 that the wolf-criers, rather than the doubters, start to seem like the nutcases? Or is war footing, and all the rhetorical benefits that gives government in its attempts to spend and surveil and arrest, truly eternal, no matter what?