Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Underwear Predictions

This piece by Calvin Trillin in The New Yorker cracked me up much more than the insufferable Woody Allen piece in the same issue (I think Allen's funny bone is irretrievably broken and I think he should call it quits).
Meanwhile, underwear explosives make me ponder: after the latest fiasco, may this not be the coup de grace for Al Qaeda? After this painful humiliation, not to mention the vilification and growing impatience of the entire world, they may just decide (if they know what is good for them) to call it a day. However, knowing how rational they are, they may get even angrier and find even more violent ways to get to date 72 women. 
In any case, my wish is obviously for the former. My instinct tells me that senseless violence cannot possibly be sustainable for organizations on a long term basis. Eventually the young idiots who get recruited to blow themselves up are going to think twice about what may happen to their balls.
Do not underestimate the symbolic significance of the charred ball imagery: it may prove to be more powerful than all our antiterrorist efforts so far.
The same may apply for those who work for the drug cartels. Is there enough money in the world to be able to live with such fear and violence, to put not only yourself but those close to you in harm's way?
What about morale? What about the generalized oprobium of society? What about the heavy personal losses? There has to be a tipping point, no?
As this enlightening piece by Steve Coll suggests (also wishful thinking, such as mine) Al Qaeda really has nothing to recommend it to the Muslim world. It does not provide anything positive to its Muslim brethren, no social programs, no cohesive community building, just aggravation and the anger, resentment and prejudice of the rest of the world. They are eventually going to be exhausted and destroyed by their own nihilism. Hopefully sooner, rather than later.
I heard the Dalai Lama once say that good is practical and evil is impractical. I liked this statement for its lack of hokey spirituality. For its pragmatism.  And I think it is true. Under any circumstance, using fear, intimidation, violence, coercion, torture, etc, does not lead to any sustainable practical results. Look at the Nazis, look at Stalin, at Mao, at terrorist organizations. Their immediate gains are only fear. And the fear of others is not that great a gain. What real purpose can it serve?
The terrorists are winning the battle only insofar as they are making us irrational (you are not allowed to read a book on a plane? Lipstick is a dangerous weapon?).
And that is why they must be stopped.

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