The $30bn pair of underpants
(Al Jazeera English) -- By Mark LeVine --
Almost immediately after it was learned that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian accused of trying to blow up a US airliner using explosives concealed in his underpants, received training in Yemen, US politicians called for Barack Obama, the US president, to expand the 'war on terror' - which remains very much a war despite the administration's official ban of such vocabulary - to that country.
The president obliged, declaring that the US would strike anywhere to prevent another attack.
Such calls were in fact unnecessary, as the US is already involved in Yemen, supervising attacks on militants that have been credited by analysts with helping to further inflame anti-Americanism and support for al-Qaeda in the country.
Indeed, far from heralding a more successful US effort to stamp out Islamist terrorism, the soon to be deepening footprint in Yemen is a sure sign of America's defeat in the war against violent extremism in the Muslim world.
'Boots on the ground'
Think about it. One angry young man with about three ounces (around 80 grams) of explosive material, $2,000, and a pair of specially tailored underwear has completely disrupted the US aviation system.
It does not even matter that he failed to blow up the plane.
The costs associated with preventing the next attack from succeeding will measure in the tens of billions of dollars - new technologies, added law enforcement and security personnel on and off planes, lost revenues for airline companies and more expensive plane tickets, and of course, the expansion of the 'war on terror' full on to yet another country, Yemen.
And what happens when the next attacker turns out to have received ideological or logistical training in yet another country? Perhaps in Nigeria, which is home to a strong and violent Salafi movement, or anyone of a dozen other African, Gulf, Middle Eastern or South East Asian countries where al-Qaeda has set up shop?
Will the US ramp up its efforts in a new country each time there is an attempted attack, putting US "boots on the ground" against an enemy that is impossible to defeat?
Such a policy would fulfill al-Qaeda's wildest dreams, as the US suffers death by a thousand cuts, bleeding out in an ever wider web of interconnected and unsustainable global conflicts...MORE...LINK