Locking the gun cabinetHas it

Locking the gun cabinet

Has it occurred to anyone else that the fact that the September 11th terrorists were trained at American flight schools actually has a bright side?

Sure, it was a massive intelligence failure; we’ve been through that discussion. But I find some comfort in the fact that to gain the skills and knowledge required to carry out their attacks, the Islamofacists had to come to America to do it.

Why is that good? Two reasons.

First, because it reinforces the point that has been made before: that this is a war between the modern civilization of the West and its allies, and an essentially medieval subculture that does not, within itself, contain anything resembling the scientific knowledge required to thrive in the modern world. And you don’t have to be a serious scholar of history to know how that type of conflict always turns out.

Second, and more significantly, it means that the power to stop the next attack is most likely in our own hands. There are no al Qaeda scientists huddling somewhere coming up with a new weapon that we’ll have to counter. The weapons that they have used — and will continue to use — are ours.

This means that the problem we face isn’t analogous so much to a homeowner attempting to perfect his home security system with an alarm, private security guard, and watchdog — it’s analogous to that same homeowner simply ensuring he puts a padlock on his gun cabinet.

There will be future terrorist attacks; guaranteed. We will never be able to lock up the weapons of retail terror: small arms, light explosives, and the like. But the weapons of wholesale terror — nuclear arms, bioterrorism agents, radioactive material — these things are possible to ‘lock up’. And that’s where our focus needs to be.

I’m very optimistic that this can be done. I’m less optimistic that it will be done. Issues such as keeping Russia’s nuclear materials safe are non-trivial to say the least, as the Annual Report to Congress on the Safety and Security of Russian Nuclear Facilities and Military Forces (from the office of the Director of Central Intelligence) shows. The report, released in February 2002, includes such reassuring statements as:

“Russian facilities housing weapons-usable nuclear material