Quiddity rides herd on UggaBugga.
Recently, Quiddity wrote: "This blog has been on record for years asserting that al Qaeda is not a major threat. "
"Would a Russian nuke detonated on a barge in New York harbor bother you?
The al Qaeda threat has been dealt with incompetently, but it's still major."
Someone asked me "Do you think that Russia's nuclear capacity continues to this day?" Someone else asserted that "'Al Queda' IS CIA."
Among other things, I responded:
The Russian nuke would be obtained on the black market.
> ..."Al Queda" IS CIA.
They have some origins there, but they're their own group now."
Quiddity weighed in:
I guess it comes down to what you mean by "major threat." I do not doubt that al Qaeda would like to kill people, but they simply don't have the means to do much beyond hijacking planes and detonating conventional explosives.
You have to make an evaluation of what their capabilities are. What about the Basques? They'd like to blow up Madrid. What about other terrorist groups? What about home-grown Tim McVeigh types? Why do you consider al Qaeda a major threat and not the others?
I'm assuming you make a classification based on some criteria that includes a look at the infrastructure and means at a group's disposal. McVeigh had virtually nothing. What does al Qaeda have? Look at their attacks so far: a small boat to attack the Cole; a couple of car bombs in East Africa; hijacked planes for September 2001. It would seem reasonable that the only real asset these guys have are humans willing to make suicide attacks - but that they don't have any potent weaponry.
I doubt that the international system would allow any non-state group to get ahold of any really potent weapons. In a way, the al Qaeda attacks are proof that all they can do is go outside the military weaponry route.
If it can be shown that al Qaeda got close to getting something really potent, then I'd be concerned. But I haven't seen anything to that effect, and at some point you have to let the empirical data - no WMD attacks for years - represent the reality of the situation.
To which yours truly:
> they simply don't have the means to do much beyond hijacking planes and detonating conventional explosives
They have plenty plenty cash, and the Russians have plenty plenty nukes and plenty plenty corruption. All it takes is one nuke in an American city (or maybe any city) for Bush to cancel the Constitution and suspend elections, and this country as we know it is done. Forever.
> ... Basques?
You just be joking. ETA has a pattern of NOT killing people.
> They'd like to blow up Madrid
> What about other terrorist groups?
Gotta quash them too.
> ...Tim McVeigh types?
> Why do you consider al Qaeda a major threat and not the others?
It's hard to evade your rhetorical box canyon of "the others" -- in which I must take on all hypotheticals -- so I'll stick to the real world. Aside from the reasons stated above, other terror groups are a major threat if they get hands on a nuke. The group with the best funding and most likely to do that is al Qaeda. But it doesn't matter so much which group it is -- if we ever started to take steps against al Qaeda, then we'd learn some techniques to use against all of them. Some day we should start.
> McVeigh had virtually nothing
Agreed. And the threat from those types is nowhere near as great as from al Qaeda.
> What does al Qaeda have?
Millions of dollars, access to martyrdom volunteers, access to Russians and Pakistanis and North Koreans who might sell them a bomb, and two hot and happening causes: Palestine and Iraq. And a track record, experience and expertise.
> I doubt that the international system would allow any non-state group to get ahold of any really potent weapons
Let's hope that you are correct, and that no mushroom cloud pierces your doubt. I'd say you're whistling in the dark.
> If it can be shown that al Qaeda got close to getting something really potent, then I'd be concerned
I think I just showed that.
> ... at some point you have to let the empirical data - no WMD attacks for years - represent the reality of the situation.
These guys are very patient and plan and execute over a period of years. Data about nuclear weapons was found in their leavings in Afghanistan. Yes, I do think that the current administration promotes lies and misconceptions about al Qaeda in order to create an atmosphere of fear -- but I also know that al Qaeda is resourceful, capable, and determined.
Let's hope that Manhattan is still there tomorrow morning, because I think that neither your approach nor George Bush's is protecting us.
This is why Bush supporters AND those who are sometimes called "leftists" hate me equally.