More Froth Than Ale 2

Following up on yesterday’s post that speculated whether the recent British terror plot was “more froth than ale,â€? I direct your attention to an article by Thomas C. Greene that appeared today in the British daily, The Register. In the article, Greene questions whether the alleged plotters were “for real, or have they, and the counterterrorist officials supposedly protecting us, been watching too many action movies.â€? To answer this question, he carefully examines the science behind the reported terrorist plot—i.e., “making a quantity of [the explosive] TATP sufficient to bring down an airplaneâ€? while in flight—and ultimately finds it wanting. He concludes that “we’ve given extraordinary credit to a collection of jihadist wannabes with an exceptionally poor grasp of the mechanics of attacking a plane, whose only hope of success would have been a pure accident. They would have had to succeed in spite of their own ignorance and incompetence, and in spite of being under police surveillance for a year.â€? The article is well worth reading in full and can be found here:

Mass murder in the skies: was the plot feasible?

Of course, given the Bush administration’s well-documented disregard for the sciences, I can easily imagine their dismissing what Greene and others may have to say—however reasonable and factual—in favor of continuing to make political hay out of this latest terrorist “threat.” And so they froth on.

6 thoughts on “More Froth Than Ale 2

  1. David, I have such trouble understanding your positions and what influences your thoughts and decisions. Yesterday you posted a powerful piece about the attacks by terrorists on 9-11. As a school teacher, I was in a similar position, and remember the long process of helping kids deal with the anxiety, fear, and confusion. I haven’t been able to listen to the recently released tapes yet. I heard one several weeks ago and found it so disturbing.

    Last week our government, along with their British counterparts, worked to disable a plot that could have had similar results. Thousands of innocent lives could have been lost. Yet instead of offering some type of thanks, you minimize the role of the American government in hopes that they don’t get any credit, and then reference two obscure writers from British newspapers who suggest an overreaction, or even some type of conspiracy.

    Why is it that you seem to want so badly America to be wrong, to be the bad guy, to fail?

    I don’t need to tell you that I am from another point on the political spectrum. I disagreed with much of President Clinton’s policies, but never did I want to see him fail on the international front, neither diplomatically nor militarily. Whether in Africa or Yugoslavia, with China or Korea, most Americans, including myself, wished him the greatest success.

    I am disappointed with the President Bush’s performance, particularly as of late. I probably would not be part of the 22% of RIers who are pleased with his efforts. But I sincerely hope he succeeds in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and in his work with Israel and Lebanon. I support his efforts to protect us, and to fight terrorism as a means to protect Americans.

    The plot in Britain has been one of many that have been thwarted. You seem to question American motives often, and offer evidence from foreign resources as support.

    Clearly you dislike President Bush, but do you dislike America as well?

  2. Mike, I sincerely appreciate your taking the time to offer your thoughts and reflections on my commentary. However disparate our political beliefs and values, you nonetheless strike me as a decent guy, someone with whom I could share a beer and engage in lively discussion. Absent such an opportunity where I might fully explain “where I’m coming from,” as it were, let me briefly respond to your comment here.

    Please do not mistake my criticism, skepticism, or even mockery as a dislike for America or a wish to have America fall down on the international stage. Having come of age not long after the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal and having witnessed all too much abuse or misapplication of power—not to mention deception, corruption, and incompetence—by this nation’s leaders in the years since, I find myself deeply disheartened, angry, and mistrustful. It pains me greatly to see the promise of this mighty republic squandered and corrupted by those of questionable motive and character who, in so many of their actions, dishonor the legacy left to us all by the founders of this nation. It pains me greatly to see so much injustice and inequity and suffering, which seemingly could be prevented or lessened if only given more priority. It pains me greatly to see this country, in the War on Terror, fighting fire with more fire rather than water and so inflaming those who might wish us harm. It pains me greatly to see us less safe and more fearful and to have such exploited for political gain. It pains me, Mike.

    And so I write and object and question and advocate. However my tone, I do not do so lightly. I want America to fulfill its promise, not sink deeper in the mire. I want America to achieve unimagined greatness. I want America to be a bastion of peace, justice, liberty, and prosperity. But, at this nadir in our history, what I want is sorely wanting. And so I write…

  3. Mike and David:
    Great exchange. I wish I could find more of this kind of heartfelt, rational dialog on blogs. We spend too much time trying to score debating points rather than trying to understand each other’s positions. We would all benefit from more honest,thoughtful discourse on critical issues.

  4. Let me begin by offering my apologies to David and Nth, but I do not believe the original comment was made in good faith.

    There is a tendency among members of a certain political persuasion to imply that disagreement with the policies and politics of bush and his cronies is the same thing as hating America.

    Hence, they say things like:

    “…Why is it that you seem to want so badly America to be wrong, to be the bad guy, to fail?…”

    “…You seem to question American motives often, and offer evidence from foreign resources as support.”

    This is classic “bait and switch.” David suggested that the motives of the Bush regime are suspect. However, the commentor substituted “American” for “bush/the bush admin,” thereby suggesting that David is somewhat less than patriotic.

    This sort of sleight-of-hand is reprehensible. Our constitution gives us the right to speak our minds. I am so tired of hearing people impugn the patriotism of people who do by using tactics like the one I’ve provided.

    The second problem with the quoted statement is that it implies that “foreign sources” are incapable of telling the truth. Or, perhaps it implies that America has a monopoly on truth. What is so wrong with foreign sources? Is it because they don’t kowtow to the corporate line of the American Corporate Media Conglomerates? Is that why they’re suspect? Cannot foreigners have a point of view? Or, since they’re not Americans, are they too just too stupid?

    So, when we’re ALL willing to have an honest debate, count me in. Until then…I’ll continue on as the local curmudgeon.

  5. klaus,

    If more Americans shared your brand of curmudgeonry, we wouldn’t find ourselves in such a mess. I value your insightful viewpoints. But in this case, let’s give the devil his due (just a figure of speech, mike).

    First, while mike questions David’s patriotism with comments like “Why is it that you seem to want so badly America to be wrong…â€?, he stops short of actually accusing him of being un-American. Contrast this with some other conservative visitors to Kmareka who might simply declare David a treasonous, lily-livered liberal and leave it at that.

    Second, mike actually concedes that he’s “probably� not one of the 22% of Riers who approve of the President’s job performance. That suggests that unlike some his ideological brethren, mike is not impervious to reality.

    Third, mike concludes his comments by asking David to clarify his position, thus opening the door to actual dialogue.

    In a conservative universe lead by a President who has difficulty articulating a coherent thought, where the agenda is determined by the likes of Karl Rove, and where the dialogue is shaped by polemical hacks like Ann Coulter and her ilk, mike’s literate, somewhat reserved style makes him appear, by contrast, to be downright reasonable.

  6. Nth, I certainly won’t be hiring you as my lawyer 🙂

    David clearly understood the motivations of my comments. I disagree with much of what David writes, but I keep coming back to read because I’m interested. I wouldn’t declare him un-American, but I have found much of his anger and frustration directed towards America. So I decided to ask. I appreciate his response and believe what he writes. We seek the same things; our beliefs in how we should attain them are sharply different.

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