September 20, 2001
5:34 AM   Subscribe

'AMERICA and Britain are producing secret plans to launch a ten-year “war on terrorism”..' declares this (otherwise fairly generic) article without citing its sources. Be prepared for the possible oxymoron of a line that is 'the whole focus of the long-term American approach was being driven by Richard Cheney..' Oh yeah -- hate to promote Murdoch media but also noteworthy in this mornings edition of the London Times are the revelations that whilst 200 British 'are certain to have perished', a further 800 are missing following the disaster and a piece warning of a 'nightmare scenario' in which Pakistan could lose control of its nuclear weapons to none other than THE TALIBAN.
posted by Kino (8 comments total)
that does state most of the 800 missing are not thought to be in danger; most were not thought to be in NY or Washington. They simply haven't called in to say they are ok.
The Russians are not able to account foe many nukes, including suitcase and small tactical devices. Dozens at least, maybe 100's, maybe more. If bin Laden wants a nuke, he's already got it.
I saw, years ago, can't remember where but I think it was a PBS Frontline, that Chechnya was used as a large nuke waste dump by the Soviets, and much of the waste can't be accounted for. Nothing weapons grade, but very poisonous stuff. They said if you packed a ton or two of it in a OK City type truck bomb, you could have a 6 figure body count.
As bad as last week was, it could have been much worse. My fear is that we are only getting started.
posted by argon405 at 6:14 AM on September 20, 2001

Phone home, visitors to the United States; your families and friends are worried and need to know you are alive.
posted by Carol Anne at 6:45 AM on September 20, 2001

Yeah, must be a nightmare for their loved ones Carol. Whilst it states that many are 'young travelers', Argon, many obviously won't be; That amount being declared 'missing', further to the 200-300 'certain' to be dead, in a headline of our most popular broadsheet here, is a bit of a big thing really.

On the subject of nuclear waste, i read yesterday that whilst eyes are diverted on the current situation the British government is planning to use the smokescreen to push through a controversial plan to allow Sellafield nuclear to embark on a process that will lead to more spent plutonium for the world to have to deal with and the quote went along the lines of 'some of which is almost certain to end up on the black market and in terrorists hands'. Even in light of current threats it seems money still talks and shit walks when it comes to nuclear regulation.
posted by Kino at 6:50 AM on September 20, 2001

The Taliban don't have a delivery system to throw a nuke more than a couple hundred miles. If they lob one in the middle of U.S. forces, that just gives us the excuse to turn Kabul into a tennis court.

I'd be more worried about bits getting smuggled into this country; we have lots of restrictions on nuclear materials going out, what about stuff coming in? Is a minimum-wage airport x-ray drone going to recognize a bomb part when it goes through?
posted by gimonca at 6:52 AM on September 20, 2001

Not if the smuggler is singing showtunes.
posted by corpse at 6:55 AM on September 20, 2001

With so many willing suicide lunatics running around nuclear bombs are still a threat even without delivery systems; they are it.

Oh yeah, Argon, nowhere in that report does it state 'most were not thought to be in NY or Washington'. I can only presume they don't know where they are.
posted by Kino at 7:06 AM on September 20, 2001

I just hope that the British strategic contribution reflects the points made by Andrew Brown in Salon.
posted by holgate at 12:15 PM on September 20, 2001

'the only short wars against terrorism are those that the terrorists win'

Thanx for the link Holgate, interesting article. Always good to see some honest, non-gushing observational commentary that succeeds in urging the West to detach itself for just a few microseconds and realistically assess its situation without needlessly chipping a dent in our morale and WITHOUT -- unlike a growing number of attention seeking detractors -- resorting to the oh so cowardly practice of blaming the victim.

One of the good modern analogies in the piece -- 'We've learned that terrorism demands a special kind of war, which is more like Sim City than a first-person shooter like Unreal' -- draws parallels with a statement in the thread spawning times article which describes the campaign as 'a more subtle and wide-ranging doctrine which seeks to defeat the enemy at its own game (“The aim is not to go for the enemy’s strengths, but its weaknesses,”) in that they both recognise our governments efforts as being truly out on the progressive edge, redesigning world society, and that it isn't all just rhetoric; our protectors really are gonna have to use tactical genius to play this unruly game of serious risk-all-poker that's such a wild departure into untraditional territories of the psychology of war (for the West at least) whilst constructing a new permanent paradigm for confronting world threats which relies so much more on neuron activity and originality than it does on kinetics of force.

All that, as the Salon piece illustrates, is a HUGE order which brings along with it even bigger gambles. Are we ready for those gambles? Even after recent events are we the public in our cosy powerful nations culturally prepared for the concept of unsurety when applied to our national security? We BETTER be, otherwise societies doubts and subsequent questions as a media saturated democracy will be liable to present dangerous hurdles whilst our leaders (who still need to win elections) concentrate on trying to convert this war from being about reactions (which people want) into actions (which people need, but don't necessarily yearn for).. as Bush said in his speech last night, there's gonna be 'covert ops secret even in their successes'.

That's a new concept for modern western politics; I can't imagine a politician being secret in any aspect of his administrations success without there being some really serious justification for it. And if that confidential status needs to be compromised at any point in time to bolster spirits and quash any semblance's of flagging public support it could be detrimental to the whole operation. Me thinks the element of keeping mass morale and confidence on high for this lengthy campaign may turn out to be one of the most brain shakingly complex problems associated with it; It's gonna take some good old fashioned political think tank logic (and propaganda) to keep the public riding euphoric waves of pride and solidarity in a war which they can't follow (especially once casualties start multiplying). Luckily, one thing our politicians ARE proven to be good at is balancing acts.

I've always been of the belief that dissent and opposing voices are one of the most important components of democracy. Yet, i'm having to re-examine that attitude in the light of current circumstances. Observing the body of dissent early on in the game i dread to think the effects it could have at a later stage. Even as support is at a current high we each, deep inside of each of us, already have nagging doubts and questions such as.. Do we, the West, have the wisdom and skillset to outwit our sneaky, hidden, destructive, psychopathic enemies?, Do our leaders? those that we elected to achieve such different objectives, are they perfectly suited to this? and if our armed forces global superiority relies more on the ability to use its superior brute force against an enemy than to fight a hidden one at its own game then what strengths do we, as nations, have to fall back on when brute force is not all that's required to win? At the moment we could question things all day long, and some people do, but luckily, most of us will never quite find ones large enough to let it dent our OPTIMISM and our DESIRE TO DO WHAT'S RIGHT. How long will that last? That's a question that does worry me. Especially if, heaven forbid, questions like 'do we really need this war?' start appearing in the mainstream of the international public/voters mindset. Thanx for reading.
posted by Kino at 1:05 AM on September 21, 2001

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