Does Terrorism Pose An Existential Threat To The U.S.?

By Sal Bommarito

Does terrorism pose an existential threat to America? An honest answer to this question would enable our leaders to write effective policies that would protect us from those elements that wish us harm. The security of America should be the most important concern of the president and our leaders, not the feelings of those who might be insulted by actions to ensure our safety.

A few days ago, President Obama indicated that terrorism does not existentially endanger the homeland. I believe he meant that it would not be possible for a terrorist organization to attack the homeland and do significant damage. Based upon history, Obama’s position is indefensible.

A band of terrorists commandeered commercial aircraft in 2001 using box cutters and flew them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The destabilization of the U.S. after these events was horrific, and we are still feeling the effects to this day. So, if the president believes our reaction to terrorism globally should be muted lest we offend one group or another, or for any other reason, I strongly disagree.

What about Pearl Harbor and 9/11? Should the U.S. have declared war against Japan after that fateful day in December 1941? And, was an invasion of Afghanistan an appropriate response to the Al Qaeda treachery in 2001?

The former event is clear-cut. Over three hundred Japanese planes attacked our homeland and killed over 2,400 Americans in an effort to destroy a U.S. naval base in Hawaii. Franklin Delano Roosevelt urged Congress to declare war on Japan, and the rest is history.

Al Qaeda terrorists planned and executed an attack on U.S. soil that killed over 2,700 innocent Americans. Shortly thereafter, President Bush authorized the invasion of Afghanistan, the nation that harbored Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of 9/11. Did 9/11 warrant such a bold reaction from the president? Before you answer, keep in mind that the conflict has continued for more than a decade, over 2,300 soldiers have been killed in action and the price tag has exceeded $650 billion.

In retrospect, the Afghan response seems excessive, especially considering the cost in blood and treasure. But, the action severely impaired Al Qaeda (for a time) and could very well have prevented other similar incidents. George Bush did not hesitate. He believed(s) terror does represent an existential threat to America, and he responded accordingly.

Radical Islamists have proven that they are willing to die for their warped ideology, one that endorses the murder of innocent people. And so, it is feasible that one day a suicide bomber armed with a small nuclear weapon could kill thousands of non-believers on the orders of a crazed cleric.

Is the possibility of such an act of terror an existential threat to America? I suppose it depends upon how many people are murdered and whether such an atrocity would destabilize the U.S. I believe the odds of a nuclear attack and its potential aftermath absolutely qualify it as an existential threat.

You may glean from my words that I am supportive of draconian measures to protect the homeland. Political correctness and hypersensitivity about civil liberties do not move me. Moreover, I would be prepared to accept increased surveillance personally if it increased the odds of preempting an attack on America.

The preponderance of troublemakers consists of either Arabs, or westerners who travel to Middle East hot spots to be trained and brainwashed. The response to this is clear. Our authorities must close our borders to those (citizens and non-citizens) trying to enter the U.S. after traveling to places fraught with radical Islamists. This is not a tactic that will be looked upon favorably by many, but it will mitigate some risks affiliated with lone wolves.

Additionally, the U.S. should end all student visas from the Middle East along with work permits unless credible companies, schools and individuals sponsor these travelers.

Finally, profiling at our borders is critical. When are we going to give TSA officers the training necessary to identify potential troublemakers?

These actions would likely create quite a stir. Nevertheless, the U.S. should take reasonable steps to amp up its defenses against terrorist threats.

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