"The opportunity of defeating the enemy
is provided by the enemy himself."
- Sun Tzu, approximately 500 B.C.
Ted Koppel has an interesing article in the Washington Post that wraps a couple of thoughts together. First, it prompts us to consider what the following have in common.
* Saddam Hussein has developed weapons of mass destruction.
* Saddam Hussein has developed, or is in the process of developing, nuclear weapons.
* There's a connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.
* The rise of a national security state and a swollen national security apparatus.
* Overblown hysteria over a proposed Islamic center in Lower Manhattan.
* A minister in Florida threatening to burn copies of the Koran, which alienates even our friends in the Muslim world.
They are all tied together because they are the product of a fear and hysteria-drenched mind set that has engulfed large segments of the American population, including much of our political leadership. Some of it is warranted in a post-9/11 environment. Much of it is also political pandering.
Still, as I pointed out in 2003, this may also be playing right into what Osama bin Laden wants for America - the gradual unwinding of our social, moral and political fabric. Fear, paranoia, and petty grandstanding all serve this agenda. So does the creation of an inward-looking national security state that seems to care little about what over-hyped security, and ill-advised war, really costs.
Indeed, as Ted Koppel points out, in a 2004 video message bin Laden boasted about leading America on the path to self-destruction.
All we have to do is send two mujaheddin . . . to raise a small piece of cloth on which is written 'al-Qaeda' in order to make the generals race there, to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses.
Koppel adds that after spending of a few hundred thousand dollars, then training and sacrificing 19 of his best foot soldiers, that bin Laden:
... has watched his relatively tiny and all but anonymous organization of a few hundred zealots turn into the most recognized international franchise since McDonald's. Could any enemy of the United States have achieved more with less? ... Could bin Laden, in his wildest imaginings, have hoped to provoke greater chaos? It is past time to reflect on what our enemy sought, and still seeks, to accomplish -- and how we have accommodated him.
I couldn't have said it any better.