Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Algeria Attacks

This morning's bombings in Algeria could tell us many things, if we chose to listen to them. But I fear we'll only hear them partially, and through partisan ears at that. Assuming that al Qaeda is responsible for the bombings (a conclusion that does not seem unreasonable) we should be reminded that this we face a fanatical foe determined to wreak havoc across the globe against liberal democracy and those sympathetic with liberal democracies, and even those illiberal states that do not cater to al Qaeda's particular form of extremist Islamic tyranny.

We'll hear that narrative in the days to come, as well we should. But what I imagine we will not hear is that an attack such as this one in Algeria really ought to remind us that when the Bush administration proclaims success in the Global War on Terror (or whatever barbarous neologism they're spinning these days -- I follow these things and I'm not even sure. Are we still rolling with "The Long War," an indeterminate construction that seems befitting of the Bush years?) it seems apparent that they want to elide the "global" aspect of things. For while it is true that there have been no attacks on American soil since 2001 there had not been a whole lot of attacks on American soil prior to 9/11. (The Bush Administration has somehow spun being in office during the worst terrorist attack in American history into a model of stewardship which is brilliant, albeit in an Orwellian way.) But there have been attacks across the globe, many against our allies (The atrocities in Spain and England) and innumerable attacks in Iraq that may show many things, but not that we've crushed terrorism. And while too many have been willing to overlook the clear improvements from the recent surge, many others seem bound and determined to try to freeze this moment in amber, to take on a whiggish approach in which today's improvement represents inevitable improvement and in which they ignore the fact that the United States is sort of responsible for what has gone on in Iraq for ill as well as for good -- and there are representatives of both.

Today's attacks in Algeria represent the dangers we face but also the dangers we have not eradicated. They represent the evil men can do but also the slippery nature of our political dialogue. They represent the triumph of terror over hope, but somehow also the triumph of hope over reality.


Paul said...

"This morning's bombings in Algeria could tell us many things, if we chose to listen to them."

"Two convicted terrorists who had been freed in an amnesty carried out the suicide bombings at U.N. and government buildings that killed 37 people, an Algerian security official has said."

What I'm hearing is, "Don't release terrorists once you have them in captivity. They just might kill again."

dcat said...

Paul --
I think we're on the same page with this. I would argue, though, that suspecting someone of beinga terrorist and confirming that they are are two different things. But if you have someone who has gome thorugh due process and has been convicted or otherwise been proven guilty, I believe that the reasons for releasing that person, especially before their sentence is done, should be incredibly compelling, and I'm pretty certain that "amnesty" isn't sufficient.