An influential book making the rounds - "Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats, and Why We Believe Them" -argues that the threat from al-Qaida is vastly exaggerated.
First, Islamic terrorists plotting attacks are arrested periodically in both Europe and the United States. Just last week a leaked British report detailed al-Qaida's plans for future "large-scale" operations. We shouldn't be blamed for being alarmist when our alarmism has resulted in our safety at home for the past five years.We are slaves to oil...
Second, have we forgotten that Nazi Germany was never able to kill 3,000 Americans on our homeland? Did Japan ever destroy 16 acres in Manhattan or hit the nerve center of the U.S. military? Even the Soviet Union couldn't inflict billions of dollars in damage to the U.S. economy in a single day.
Third, in some ways stateless terrorists can be more dangerous than past conventional threats. Autocrats in some Middle East countries allow indirect financial and psychological support for al-Qaida terrorists without leaving footprints of their intent. They must assume that a single terrorist strike could kill thousands of Americans without our ability to strike back at their capitals. This inability to tie a state to its support for terrorism is our greatest obstacle in this war - and our enemies' greatest advantage.
Fourth, jihadists have already scored successes in all sorts of ways beyond altering the very nature of air travel. Cartoonists now lampoon everyone and everything - except Muslims. The pope must weigh his words carefully. Otherwise, priests and nuns are attacked abroad. A single false Newsweek story about one flushed Koran led to riot and death.
Finally, radical Islamists largely arise from the oil-rich Middle East. Since 9/11, the price of oil has skyrocketed, transferring trillions of dollars from successful Western, Indian and Chinese economies to unsuccessful Arab and Iranian autocracies.Let us also recall that Iran Tops List of State Terror Sponsors right now, as the State Department reported.
Terrorists know that blowing up a Saudi oil field or getting control of Iraqi petroleum reserves - and they attempt both all the time - will alter the world economy. Even their mere threats give us psychological fits and their sponsors more cash.
Let us also recall the terrorists caught in the act, such as the Indian national in Rhode Island who desired to learn how to drive a tractor trailer, but had no interest in learning to back up.
This war is for real; the actors exist, they want to do us harm, and the fight is far from over.