Designed to Undermine, not to Overwhelm

Much has been written on this tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Much of what I received in my inbax I ignored. Most of what I read wasn’t worth the time. People with average intellects merely manage to project their own biases onto world changing events. I suspect that only people with remarkable intellects and deep humility have the ability to see beyond their own sandcastles and recognize such transformative events for what they are.

Road undermined by drainage waterHaviland Smith, a retired CIA station chief who specialized in Eastern European and Middle Eastern affairs did say this (in the Daily Reckoning) about the 9/11 attacks:

It is critical to remember that terrorism is not designed to overwhelm. It is designed to undermine. In that context, whatever it does to cause or initiate anxiety in targeted populations and governments, it relies on the reaction of those populations and governments equally as much to achieve its final goals.

Rain (or fear) washing away the bedrock beneath a road ruins and closes the road (or society) just as effectively, albeit far more slowly, than a well placed mortar rocket. Smith’s words seem worth pondering, a decade after the deed.


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