Al Qaeda’s Real Strategy
December 27, 2009 2 Comments
What are they going to do, make us all roll up our pant legs?
By this point the following theory half-suggests itself: Al Qaeda isn’t really trying to blow anything up. Not really. They’re just trying to make our society come to a halt (and reverse its progress) by making us waste countless man-hours and GDP doing dumb things on a massive scale.
Levitt and Dubner make the point in SuperFreakonomics that the “shoe bomber” (who didn’t actually detonate any bombs) may have caused far more net damage to society than is generally believed. Every. single. person. now has to take off their shoes at an airport. This is dumb. It is wasteful. It is demeaning. The operating theory behind it (that all shoes are capable of concealing bombs, and that shoes are especially likely to be concealing bombs) is ridiculous on its face. Why only shoes? Why not jeans, and dresses, and bras? What’s so special about shoes?
The answer is: ‘because there was that Shoe Bomber dude’.
This is reactive and backward-looking security at its most lamebrained.
Now this Nigerian seemed to have bomb-making materials under his pants. Great. There go our pants. “Take ‘em off!”, will go the Smart security cry. “For safety.”
Al Qaeda’s real strategy at this point, you see, is not to actually wage real attacks. It is to come up with fake attacks (whether or not they are actually likely to work doesn’t much matter) that will force our security efforts into dumber and more wasteful backward-looking acts of silliness.
That’s my theory, anyway. And I’m not entirely joking….