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No Need for Hubris on Matters of National Security


Vice President Joe Biden recently opined that he did not think the terrorists were able to pull off another attack of the 9/11 magnitude: “They are, in fact, not able to do anything remotely like they were able to do in the past.” Robert Gibbs last week assured us that Iranian rhetoric about nuclear enrichment was not matched by reality — e.g., ”The Iranian nuclear program has undergone a series of problems throughout the year; we do not believe they have the capability to enrich to the degree to which they now say they are enriching” — although the UN just announced that the theocracy is focused rather seriously on a warhead.

Four reactions:

1) In war it is never wise to underestimate your adversary, e.g., the worst violence often comes at the end of a war from a reeling enemy (cf. the Bulge or Okinawa).

2) A small, briefcase-sized biological weapon could indeed trump 9/11; and this country has been consistently wrong in predicting nuclear proliferation, from the acquistion of the bomb by the Soviets and China to the 1998 Pakistani detonation.

3) This administration has a particularly bad record of prognostication (cf. last year’s assurances on the unemployment rate, the number of jobs saved or created, the size of the deficit, etc.).

4) This administration has an even worse record of consistency, e.g., former fat cats on Wall Street are now wealth producers; once-taboo nuclear power is now viable; KSM will/will not be tried in New York; previously anti-Constitutional protocols from renditions, tribunals, and wiretaps to Predators, Iraq, and Guantanamo are now apparently acceptable anti-terrorism methodologies. I am sure that, if need be, they will blithely and without embarrassment offer us a new narrative in which, in fact, al-Qaeda is still dangerous in the 9/11 sense and Iran most assuredly is close to getting a bomb.