A bomb went off in Shea Stadium yesterday
. Of course, it was a mock bomb, part of a mock drill to assess mock response to a mock terrorist attack.
Everything may have been fake about that bomb, but I can tell you, the fear is real. Everyone I talk to, from the deli owner who is thinking about moving back to Trinidad, to the elderly couple on line in the movie theater, is afraid.
Don't let them fool you. Don't let anyone tell you that the Socialists won in Spain because 90% of the people were against Spain's involvemnet in the Iraq war and they were voting with that in mind.
This paragraph appeared
in the March 11th New York Times
- before the bombs went off on the trains in Madrid:
bq. Spain goes to the polls on Sunday, and Mariano Rajoy, a 48-year-old lawyer, who has pledged to adhere to Mr. Aznar's policies, enjoys a comfortable lead in the polls. Even less charismatic than Mr. Aznar, he nevertheless has benefited from the extraordinarily well-disciplined machine of his center-right Popular Party and the country's strong economic performance.
A comfortable lead. Obviously, the Spanish people were not voting with the Iraq war in mind. And then, the bombs, the deaths, the fear; al Qaeda. Terror struck Spain and a message was sent in the form of flames and explosions: We will kill you.
It was blackmail of the worst kind and the payoff was the votes of the people of Spain.
Unfortunately, their votes spell certain doom for other countries, other innocent people. It's not hyperbole, it's not some form of right-wing histrionics to cry that the terrorists have won, because they certainly did. They want the Popular Party out and the party that would deal a blow to the Iraq war in. And they won.
So now the spotlight is on Bush and how Americans react. Will they blame Bush for not ridding the world of bin Laden and driving al Qaeda into the ground? I'm sure that's what the terrorists have in mind. They are hoping to sway the American voters with residual fear. And if the polls don't change and Kerry doesn't take a commanding lead soon, perhaps they will try to sway us with death.
Maybe today people are waking up and thinking, hey Kerry will pull our troops out of Iraq. He'll make nice with Chirac and Schroeder. He'll use "vigorous law enforcement" to fight terror.
For some reason, those things do not make me look at John Kerry as the man to keep us safe.
Kerry also said:
At the core of this conflict is a fundamental struggle of ideas. Of democracy and tolerance against those who would use any means and attack any target to impose their narrow views.
The War on Terror is not a clash of civilizations. It is a clash of civilization against chaos; of the best hopes of humanity against dogmatic fears of progress and the future.
It most certainly is a clash of civilizations and a president who cannot see that is a president who does not understand terrorists at all. Oh sure, he's right in that it's a struggle of ideas; they want to kill us, we want to live. "You love life, we love death
," as the saying goes. They want us to worship their god and follow their religious guidelines to life. We like our freedom to choose.
...democracy and tolerance against those who would use any means and attack any target to impose their narrow views.
I don't know about you, but the words democracy and tolerance, when used in the terms of dealing with people who want to kill you, strike fear in my heart. These people want us dead. Well, dead or wearing veils and facing Mecca.
So, Kerry says Bush has done too little in the war on terror. Bush opposers say that al Qaeda striking in Spain is proof that that the war on terror isn't working because al-Qaeda is still alive and well. Which leads them to believe that if we had captured OBL two years ago, al-Qaeda would be dead as a doornail.
al-Qaeda is just an umbrella organization for a host of terrorists, would-be martyrs, murderers and thugs. Even if OBL was hung in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on international television, these groups would still exist. From the closest offshoots of al-Qaeda to the fringe groups, they would act separately and together to fulfill their mission.
Do you think it would really matter had bin Laden been captured already - or at least proven dead?
I don't think so.
It's likely that OBL stopped running the show soon after September 11, 2001. If he's not dead already, then he's holed up in a shabby hut somewhere, powerless and feeble.
It's not like al-Qaida was formed on 9/10/01 and then struck with force the next day. They've been around a while. And before them were other groups and other factions hell bent on turning the world into one giant Muslim playground. As it will always be.
The war on terror probably can't be won anytime soon. But we can play the best defense we know how and hold them off from scoring again. For every OBL that bites the dust, another one rises in his place, spurred on by dreams of heavenly virgins and martyrdom. It's our job to strike these self-appointed leaders of murder down as they appear, and just keep hacking at them until either their numbers are diminished or they get the hint that we don't want to live under their law, their religion, their rules, and we will fight them every step of the way.
So no, the capture of OBL months or years ago wouldn't have mattered. It might have been a moral victory for us and a moral letdown for them, but, like cockroaches, they would gather up again and look for the crumbs of fear to prey on. They'll move out of Spain and into places like Poland or America. They'll once again try to sway elections with fear, driving cars laden with explosives into crowded buildings, sending out signals that it's time to submit or be killed.
Of course the terrorists have won. They've been emboldened and strengthened by the Socialist win in Spain. Fear wins. Terror works. So they pat each other on the back for a job well done and start planning the next.
I'm no longer sitting around wondering when the other shoe to drop. I see its shadow hovering above us. It's not the mock shadow of a mock attack.
Any minute now.